Study reporting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine induces persistent germinal centre responses

This article was published on
June 28, 2021

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A study published in Nature suggests that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine induces persistent human germinal centre responses.

A study published in Nature suggests that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine induces persistent human germinal centre responses.


SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines induce persistent human germinal centre responses

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This work has not been scrutinised by independent experts, or the story does not contain research data to review (for example an opinion piece). If you are reporting on research that has yet to go through peer-review (eg. conference abstracts and preprints) be aware that the findings can change during the peer review process
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Expert Comments: 

Prof Danny Altmann

So much of COVID-19 immunology has had to be discovered at breakneck speed, that its sometimes been necessary to stand back from the tsunami of immune measurements, take a deep breath, and remember our basic immunology. This is such a moment, in the form of a terribly elegant and impactful study. It involves looking at immunity to spike in people given two Pfizer doses (with or without prior infection). Like many other studies, antibodies are measured, as are the ‘plasmablasts’ – B cells in the blood making the antibodies. Because there has been so much alarm over the suggestion that antibodies wane rapidly and immune memory may not be established, the team here added a really novel, additional experiment: they used a fine needle to sample some of the memory cells in the lymph node under the arm – the place where white blood cells actually get together after vaccination to build a robust, long-term immune response. For at least 3-months, these needle aspirates are found to contain memory cells that have undergone all the expected changes to lay down high-quality immune memory, such as changing antibody sequences to evolve ones of higher quality fit for the virus. This offers cause for optimism that, in most people, responses to vaccination will be long-lasting.

Dr Peter English

We are so lucky to have been able, so quickly, to develop several highly effective Covid-19 vaccines.

As time goes by, we are learning more and more about just how effective they are.

This is another paper filling in more of the details, particularly relating to the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine “BNT162b2”. It is highly technical; but the good news is that it clearly shows good maturation of the immune response following vaccination, which is likely to provide both long term and broad immunity, which will remain effective against vaccine variants.

Note that this paper only studies the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine. It does not compare this vaccine with other vaccines, so we do not know if other vaccines are as good, better, or not as good as BNT162b2 in these respects.


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