Research sheds light on protections against COVID-19 variant infections

Having both a vaccination and a previous infection helps provide immunity against some COVID-19 variants

5:00 AM

Author | Tessa Roy

covid cell
Justine Ross, Jacob Dwyer, Michigan Medicine

Research is shedding light on why ‘breakthrough’ Omicron infections occur in vaccinated individuals and suggests those who are both vaccinated and experienced previous infection have better protection against getting sick again.

The research shows that having both infection and vaccination with the “wild-type” virus, or the original COVID-19 variant, provides individuals with the strongest protection against all variants; those who were unvaccinated or who had not previously had the virus were more likely to have undetectable neutralization against all variants of COVID-19. Immunity provided by vaccines appears to wane over time. The research supports Omicron-specific vaccine boosters to better protect those who have not previously been infected.

“This study shows that immunity from infection, sometimes called ‘natural immunity,’ plays an important role in protection against subsequent COVID-19 infection,” James Baker, Director of the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center, said.

Authors of the research include Charles Schuler, M.D., assistant professor of Internal Medicine and assistant professor of Mary H Weiser Food Allergy at the University of Michigan Medical School; Kelly O’Shea, M.D., assistant professor of Internal Medicine and Assistant Professor of Mary H Weiser Food Allergy, Medical School; and James Baker, M.D., Director, Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center, Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Biologic Nanotechnology, Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine, Medical School and Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering.

The research was funded by The University of Michigan (Institutional Funding via a COVID-19 Innovation Grant as well as funding from the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center), the National Institutes of Health (UL1TR002240), and through a related sponsored project from Healgen Scientific.

Paper cited: “Wild-type SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing immunity decreases across variants and over time but correlates well with diagnostic testing,” Frontiers in Immunology, Volume 14-2023. DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1055429

More Articles About: Allergy and Immunology infectious disease Covid-19 COVID-19 Vaccine
Health Lab word mark overlaying blue cells
Health Lab

Explore a variety of healthcare news & stories by visiting the Health Lab home page for more articles.

Stay Informed

Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!

Featured News & Stories Illustration of scientists and doctors playing basketball in white coats and scrubs
News Release
Four U-M teams selected for virtual tournament of science
U-M researchers' work made the bracket in the 2024 STAT Madness tournament of science, and need public support to advance
Health care provider loads syringe with measles vaccine
Health Lab
Measles: 10 things to know about immunization and prevention
Measles: 10 things to know about immunization and prevention
Minding Memory with a microphone and a shadow of a microphone on a blue background
Minding Memory
The Intersection of Artificial Intelligence & Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
In this episode, Matt and Donovan talk with Dr. Jason H. Moore, Director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence Research and Education (CAIRE) and Chair of the Department of Computational Biomedicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Jason discusses the coming impact of artificial intelligence on a spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD) issues. We discuss how tools such as AI-powered chatbots may improve quality of life for people living with dementia (and their caregivers) and how AI may contribute in the future to diagnosis and treatment.
colorful illustration with human figure and highlighted lungs
Health Lab
Multimodal AI model may guide personalized treatments for tuberculosis
AI approach helps researchers interpret large biomedical data sets to accurately predict tuberculosis treatment prognosis
Provider takes a pulse oximetry reading from a patient's finger
Health Lab
Inaccurate pulse oximeter readings could limit transplants, heart pumps for Black patients with heart failure
Racially biased readings of oxygen levels in the blood using pulse oximeters may further limit opportunities for Black patients with heart failure to receive potentially lifesaving treatments, such as heart pumps and transplants
Medical gloved hand holding test tube sample for HIV testing.
Health Lab
Inequities in HIV testing, diagnosis and care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
People with disabilities are often at higher risk for exposure to HIV due to barriers in engaging healthcare and other systemic factors and are thus considered a priority for prevention and testing efforts. However, these efforts don’t always extend to people with intellectual disabilities due to the perception that people with intellectual disabilities are mostly asexual.