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 health care 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 Health Lab Podcast in brackets with a background with a dark blue translucent layers over cells
Health Lab Podcast
Addressing health care inequality
An expert on racial and ethnic differences in health care and health outcomes offers recommendations as part of a national committee.
daughter with family in wheel chair and IV pole and daughter with eye covering in picture on right
Health Lab
10-year-old “Swiftie” makes progress after septic shock
Taylor Swift fan recovers from flesh eating bacteria with help from her care team and Swift's music
woman laying on floating cell maroon
Health Lab
Circadian rhythm drives the release of important immune cells
A study shows circadian rhythm drives the release of important immune cells in the body.
woman smiling with white short hair and earrings dark with orange background
Health Lab
Using biologic injections for severe asthma after COVID
Biologic injections end up being the best treatment for treating severe asthma after having COVID for one patient.
pills floating blue pink dark background physician in middle looking at chart white coat scrubs
Health Lab
Better medical record-keeping needed to fight antibiotic overuse, studies suggest
Efforts to reduce overuse of antibiotics may be hampered by incomplete medical records that don’t show the full reasons for prescriptions.
surgery gloves passing tool blue and yellow
Health Lab
A universal heparin reversal drug is shown effective in mice
The newest version of the heparin reversal drug, described in a recent issue of Advanced Healthcare Materials, adjusted the number of protons bound to it, making the molecule less positive so it would preferentially bind to the highly negative heparin, resulting in a much safer drug.