Carmen Cámara, immunologist at Hospital La Paz; José Gómez Rial, immunologist at the Clinical Hospital of Santiago de Compostela; and María Montoya, CSIC immunologist.
The sixth wave of Covid-19, leadered by Omicron, continues to advance and the roadmap is now to achieve 100 percent vaccination coverage in the Spanish population, in addition to administering a third dose to strengthen the immune system. Now, is it really necessary even in the younger population? The decision of Ministry of Health to inoculate this dose of the vaccine to people between 18 and 39 years old, young and healthy, opens the ban and the debate among immunologists, who believe that “two doses are enough”.
Carmen Chamber, immunologist at La Paz University Hospital and secretary of the Spanish Society of Immunology (MAY BE), explains that “when the same stimulus is inoculated repeatedly and closely, it is not good for the immune system because it is not prepared and, therefore, we have a exhausted immune system“. As a consequence of this, “subjects can undergo a process of tolerance”.
The strategy of Health to advance in vaccination has always been the same: first vulnerable, then health and so on until completing the entire population. However, he has decided to modify it so that people, with two doses, who have passed Ómicron, put the booster after four weeks. In this sense, Cámara wonders “why is this being done”, when “it has been shown that the person who has had the disease has better immunity than the vaccine itself”.
“Those who have the best immune response are those who have had a combination of vaccine and infection.” This union is called “hybrid immunity”, according to Cámara, “which multiplies the power by up to 100”. Therefore, the expert clarifies that “if these people already have their ‘three doses’ (the two vaccines plus having passed the virus itself), why do they want to give them another one?” In addition, Cámara emphasizes that “if what the Ministry wants is complete the three-dose regimen to the entire population, that they do it as they had announced from the beginning, six months after the infection has passed and do not change it now.
Repeating doses with the same vaccine does not stop transmission
Regarding the main problem that concerns Spain in terms of the current situation is to stop the transmission of the virus and, in this line, Cámara clarifies that “Ómicron is milder in vaccinated people and young people, and it has been proven that repeated doses with the same vaccine does not serve to control the transmission”.
Jose Gomez Rial, an immunologist at the Clinical Hospital of Santiago de Compostela, agrees with the Chamber’s statements and assures that “the third dose in this population group could have been indicated when Delta was circulating, since the antibodies generated after vaccination had neutralizing capacity against this variant , and among all stop virus transmissionBut this effect “we have lost against Ómicron, since it has been shown that it considerably evades the action of neutralizing antibodies”, adds the immunologist.
Gómez Rial: “When the risk-benefit ratio is low, vaccination is not indicated”
Likewise, Gómez Rial asserts that “in this epidemiological moment that we are experiencing, when Ómicron is in the majority, the benefit, both individual and collective, in young and healthy people under 40 years of age is none.” In this regard, he adds that “vaccination strategies must always take into account risk-benefit ratio and when it is low, vaccination is not indicated“.
“Immune system, an army that before the vaccine remembers its enemy”
Mary Montoya, researcher at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CIB-CSIC) within the Global Health Platform focused on Covid-19 and a member of the board of directors of the SEI, joins this same line of thought and makes a comparison between the immune system and the army: “When he fights against an infection, he remembers that enemy he has fought against, which is what vaccines are based on.”
This explains that “the immune system needs a break to then activate again and, if you don’t complete these six months, it wears out as if it had been activated all the time and that’s not good”.
In addition, he adds to what Gómez Rial has previously explained about the ‘risk-benefit’ formula and Montoya emphasizes that “there is more benefit giving a reminder at six months to healthy people than not giving it. The optimal thing is this time and, in fact, , it is seen that the more you let the immune system rest, the better“, he concludes.
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