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Do COVID-19 vaccines cause antibody-dependent enhancement?

This article was published on
June 3, 2021

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Do COVID vaccines cause antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)? ADE occurs when a virus or vaccine causes the production of antibodies that can make a viral infection worse.

Do COVID vaccines cause antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE)? ADE occurs when a virus or vaccine causes the production of antibodies that can make a viral infection worse.

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Expert Comments: 

Dr Wen Shi Lee

There is currently no evidence to suggest that existing COVID-19 vaccines cause ADE. In fact, real-world vaccine effectiveness data from Israel (Pfizer) and UK (AstraZeneca and Pfizer) vaccines show that there is protection against symptomatic illness even after 1 shot of the vaccine.

The level of vaccine effectiveness against infection, symptomatic illness, hospitalisation, severe disease and death increases dramatically after 2 doses of the vaccine, arguing against antibodies playing a detrimental role in COVID19 disease progression.

Take home - the norm is reduced disease severity associated with prior COVID immunisation (i.e. those that do have vaccine “breakthrough” infections get less sick).

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