Studies Say COVID-19 Most Likely to Mutate- What That Means For A Vaccine?
8How will this affect a possible vaccine?
According to the Scripps researchers, the vaccine will most likely work against variants of this mutation. The news of the slow and mild nature of the mutations has been beneficial for the vaccine being developed. Neuman said: “The virus is still so similar now to the initial sequence that there isn’t really much reason to think the differences will matter in terms of vaccine”.
In general, the vaccines target an early version of the virus-like the flu vaccine. Neuman explained: “The H1N1 annual vaccine is still using a strain from 2009. It’s the ancestor of the various forms that have come after, and while there are differences now, a response against the ancestor seems to give good results against all the descendants”. He did also say that usually, an older strain of the virus will “preserve enough features” which will provide immunity against a whole group of variants.
9COVID-19’s analogy is similar to the mumps
There has been a very effective vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella for more than 45 years. All these are RNA viruses. Rose said: “These viruses have not mutated enough to escape the protection provided by the vaccines”. The same analogy could apply for COVID-19. Rose explained: “It should be possible to make an effective COVID-19 vaccine that will provide long-lasting immunity against this particular virus just as we have for many other viruses that do not change rapidly”.
Schleiss stated that once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, it will protect people against the “vast majority of circulating COVID-19 strains for the foreseeable mutations”. Schleiss believes that even with random mutations occurring, the worst-case scenario would be some breakthrough infections, but there won’t be any breakthrough life-threatening disease.
10After recovering from the virus how long will the immunity last?
Even after beating the infection and recovering, it still isn’t clear as to how long will this newly developed immunity last. A virus upon leaving the body leaves a marker in the immune system, known as antibodies. These antibodies can prevent future infection of the same virus by identifying them much sooner.
During the SARS pandemic in 2003, people who contracted the virus and recovered developed strong antibodies for about 2 years which made them immune to the virus. But, after 3 years they had a higher chance of contracting the virus again because the antibodies had tapered off.
11COVID-19’s timeline can be quite similar
Researchers believe that in a few years time there will hopefully be enough herd immunity. This will be developed from a vaccine as well as the natural immunity from so many people contracting the virus. This will potentially be enough to eradicate the disease without any possibilities of re-infections.
It’s possible that the COVID-19 antibodies in our system might wear off after years. But, in case the virus does make a comeback, your body will remember the infection and will be prepared to fight it by mobilizing certain cells to detect and destroy the virus. Schleiss said, “vaccines confer memory”.
“The idea of waning immunity is complicated, and it’s more than just the issue of how soon do your antibodies dissipate and disappear after your vaccination”’ Schleiss added. While it will not be possible to predict what can happen and how long a person’s immunity can last only “time will tell”, Schleiss said, because “nature doesn’t work that way”.