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A Note to the Vaccinated: Thank You and Be Reassured

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The following article is an opinion piece written by Michael Kinch. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Technology Networks.

A quick glimpse of the headlines brought forth a gloomy article titled: “Studies confirm waning immunity from Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine". The story conveyed a study of Israeli health care workers, which revealed decreasing levels of circulating antibodies that protect against severe infections. It was accompanied by a summary of a similar and no less ominous portent arising from a Qatari study.

As an immunologist and someone who wears both the hat of a scientist and historian, has taken a long view of the pandemic, please be assured that neither of these stories is neither particularly surprising nor news worthy. These outcomes are certainly not such to cause public concern and indeed can be described as something we have all been craving for these past twenty-plus months: normal.

Our immune systems are, in a word, astonishing. Our body is protected each and every moment of our lives by layers of defenses that include a multitude of different antibodies and cells. Once a durable immunity has been achieved, especially through vaccination, these defenders stand at the ready and can be mobilized with remarkable speed and aggressiveness.

It is quite normal and generally understood that the levels of antibodies in the blood will wane over time. This fact is true for all the varied viruses, bacteria and other potentially harmful agents to which our immune systems have been exposed over our lifetimes. Our bodies simply could not keep up with the energy needs to supply every antibody at high levels, every day and for the rest of our lives.

Rest assured that all of us who have been vaccinated retain the ability to call up these antibodies and cells as needed. This fact gets at another point that has been repeatedly mis-communicated.

The three remarkable vaccines created and approved by the FDA over the past months were not designed to prevent infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Rather, they were created to prevent severe disease and death from the virus. Some viruses are too nimble and cannot be stopped from infecting us. However, we can prevent these infections from getting out of control by mobilizing an immune system that has already been alerted to the possible presence of a deadly pathogen. This is how the COVID-19 vaccines work.

Indeed, these and other vaccines can be thought of as “super-human” in that that can convey a magnitude of protection that cannot be achieved through natural infection. This is why even those individuals who have been infected in the past still need to be vaccinated.

In summary, to those of you who have been vaccinated: thank you for rolling up your sleeves and helping to protect our world from a deadly pandemic. More importantly, please don’t lose confidence in the vaccine or become overly anxious by headlines claiming your important contributions were in vain. They most certainly were not.