Scientists say some people “develop superhuman” or “hybrid” immunity after being infected with COVID-19 and receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
“Overall, hybrid immunity to SARS-CoV-2 appears to be impressively strong,” immunologist Shane Crotty wrote in a June commentary. npr.org.
In recent months, a number of studies have found that some people have an extraordinarily strong immune response against it coronavirus. Their body produces high levels of antibodies and not only that, the antibodies are quite flexible, which makes them able to fight against new variants of SARS-CoV-2, but also those that will appear in the future.
“We could predict that these people will be fairly well protected against many – or perhaps all – SARS-CoV-2 variants that will appear in the near future,” said Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at Rockefeller University.
A study published last month by Bieniasz and colleagues shows that these people’s antibodies can neutralize the 6 worrying coronavirus variants, including delta and beta, as well as other SARS-CoV-2-related viruses, including one in bats, two in pangolins, and the one that caused the first coronavirus pandemic, SARS-CoV-1.
Who could have “superhuman” or “hybrid” immunity to coronavirus?
People who were infected with coronavirus in 2020 and were then immunized with one of the messenger RNA vaccines this year.
“These people have responded amazingly to the vaccine,” says virologist Theodora Hatziioannou of Rockefeller University, who has worked on many studies on the subject.
“I think they (people with hybrid immunity no) are best prepared to fight the virus. In addition, antibodies in their body can neutralize SARS-CoV-1, the first coronavirus to appear 20 years ago. This is a very, very different virus from SARS-CoV-2 “, adds the expert.
Moreover, these antibodies have been able to inactivate a virus intentionally designed to be extremely resistant to neutralization. This virus contained 20 mutations. Antibodies from people who have only been vaccinated or who have only had previous coronavirus infections have been essentially useless against this mutant virus. Antibodies from people with “hybrid immunity” were able to neutralize it, however.
These findings show how beneficial messenger RNA vaccines are for people who have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2.
However, researchers found in August that those vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine could develop flexible antibodies, even if they had not previously had coronavirus infection. So a third dose of the vaccine could help the antibodies become more flexible. In this way, a person could be better “equipped” to fight new variants of viruses.