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What Happens to the Human Body After 200 Vaccines?

An elderly man having a vaccine.
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Last month a story about a 62-year-old male from Magdeburg made headlines after he claimed to have received 217 vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. His claim prompted scientists from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) to invite the individual for tests to investigate what happens in the body of a hypervaccinated individual. Their study was published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.

How many vaccines are too many?

National vaccination programmes have played a vital role in several public health initiatives. Vaccines assist in priming the immune system, enabling it to identify harmful pathogens rapidly in the event of a later infection.


Over 70% of the world's population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with many individuals receiving the recommended multiple booster vaccinations. Lead author Dr. Kilian Schober, from the Schober lab at FAU, heard about the case via a newspaper article. There is an official record for 134 of the vaccinations, the rest are self-reported.

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Could hypervaccination lead to a less effective immune system?

Some scientists believed that in the case of hypervaccination, the immune system would become fatigued, making it less effective when encountering a pathogen. “That may be the case in a chronic infection such as HIV or Hepatitis B, that has regular flare-ups, resulting in T cells releasing fewer pro-inflammatory messenger substances,” said Schober.


Dr. Eric Yager, department chair in the department of allied heath sciences at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, who was not involved in the research, added, “Experimental and clinical data support that more is not always better. Repeated immunization with the same vaccine antigen has been found to induce immune tolerance, or a state of unresponsiveness to the antigen that would otherwise trigger an immune response.”

The immune system is resilient

Schober and team analyzed the hypervaccinated individual’s from blood samples taken over recent years to investigate the individual’s immune system.


In some cases, samples had been frozen, and we were able to investigate these ourselves. We were also able to take blood samples ourselves when the man received a further vaccination during the study at his own insistence,” said Schober.


The results were compared to a control group that comprised of 29 vaccinees who received a 3-dose mRNA vaccine regimen.

Schober and team were surprised to see the individual’s immune system was not impaired by hyper-vaccination. The results demonstrated a higher level of T effector cells and antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 compared to the controls, with no changes in quality. The number of memory T cells was also similar when compared with the controls.

The 217th vaccine had a positive effect on the individual's immune system, increasing the number of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 further. “We only investigated the individual’s immune system in detail, although we do report that many routine lab parameters were normal,” said Schober told Technology Networks.

Further testing showed the individual’s immune system was still effective against other pathogens and was tolerant to the hypervaccination. “With the caveat that this study represents a single individual and very atypical vaccination schedule, the immune responses detected in the individual are contrary to what immunologists have observed in situations of repeated/chronic antigen exposure. HIM’s T cell responses did not exhibit the hallmarks of exhaustion/desensitization,” said Yager.

“Compared to controls, HIM’s T cells showed no defect in their ability to proliferate and secrete cytokines in response to SARS-CoV-2 spike antigen exposure. Further, HIM’s T cells did not appear to express increased levels of inhibitory receptors (i.e., PD-1, CTLA-4). Interesting too is that the relative proportion of IgG4 in HIM’s spike-specific antibody response was not increased when compared to control vaccinated individuals,” Yager added.

“We could not see any adverse effects associated with hypervaccination, but, the generalizability of our findings is questionable and we do not endorse hypervaccination since the theoretical risks do not justify the (limited) benefit,” said Schober.

“As an individual concerned with vaccine education and vaccine confidence, I am interested in understanding what we can learn from this incident. Do HIM’s actions reflect a general misunderstanding of how vaccines work and/or how effective the COVID vaccines are at protecting against severe outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection?” concluded Yager.

Reference: Kocher K, Moosmann C, Drost F, et al. Adaptive immune responses are larger and functionally preserved in a hypervaccinated individual. Lancet Infect Dis. 2024. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(24)00134-8

Dr. Kilian Schober and Dr. Eric Yager were speaking to Rhianna-lily Smith, Editorial Assistant for Technology Networks.


About the interviewees:

Dr. Kilian Schober is a group leader at the Institute of Microbiology in Erlangen (FAU). He studied Medicine at the Universities of Würzburg and London. After his MD thesis, Kilian trained to become a medical specialist for Microbiology, Virology and Epidemiology of Infections and joined the team of Dirk Busch at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) as a post-doctoral fellow. His current research focuses on understanding and engineering human T cell immunity to treat infectious diseases and cancer.

Dr. Eric Yager is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and department chair in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS). At ACPHS, Dr. Yager instructs several courses in the life sciences (Immunology, Virology, Microbiology Lab, Biomedical Laboratory Techniques, Introduction to Flow Cytometry) and serves as Program Director of the College’s Pre-Pharmacy Program. Dr. Yager has over 20 years of experience in the areas of virology, immunology, antibody-based therapies, anti-virals and vaccines. Dr. Yager has authored more than 25 peer-reviewed publications, has given invited talks at several regional and national scientific conferences, and is enthusiastic about educating individuals on viruses and vaccines.