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A longer gap between doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine leads to higher overall antibody levels than a shorter gap, a UK study found Friday, but there is a sharp drop in antibody levels after the first dose.
The study may help inform vaccination strategies against the Delta variant, which reduces the effectiveness of a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, although two doses are still protective.
“For the longer dosing interval … neutralizing antibody levels against the Delta variant were poorly induced after a single dose and not maintained during the interval before the second dose,” the authors of the study, which is led by the University of Oxford, said. .
“After two vaccine doses, neutralizing antibody levels were twice as high after the longer dosing interval compared to the shorter dosing interval.”
Neutralizing antibodies are thought to play an important role in immunity against the coronavirus, but not the whole picture, which also involves T cells.
The study found that total T cell levels were 1.6 times lower with a long gap compared to the short 3-4 week dosing schedule, but a higher proportion were “helper” T cells with the long gap, that support long-term immune memory.
The authors emphasized that both dosing regimens produced strong antibody and T-cell responses in the study of 503 health professionals.
The findings, released as a pre-print, support the view that while a second dose is needed to provide full protection against Delta, delaying that dose may provide more lasting immunity, even at the expense of protection on the skin. short-term.
Last December, Britain extended the interval between vaccine doses to 12 weeks, although Pfizer warned there was no evidence to support a shift from a three-week break.
Britain is now recommending an 8-week gap between vaccine doses to help more people get high protection against Delta faster, while still maximizing the immune response in the longer term.
“I think the 8 week is about the sweet spot,” Susanna Dunachie, the study’s joint principal investigator, told reporters.
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