Can covid infection replace 3rd vaccination?

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Berlin virologist Christian Drosten recently made people sit up and take notice with a statement: “Actually, the goal is not to always have to vaccinate for all time,” Drosten said, looking to the future. “Learning to live with the virus after population protection has been achieved via vaccination,” is his motto. Everyone who is healthy and has no pre-existing conditions should get their individual “booster immunization” through recurrent contact with the virus.

“We need to get to a state where the virus can spread insidiously through the population but will not affect most of those infected. This state of ‘endemicity’ can only be achieved with increasing vaccination rates.”

A model for the future? – “At the present time, this is not an option,” says Markus Zeitlinger, head of the Department of Pharmacology at MedUni Vienna, in an interview with “Heute.” At present, when the occupancy of intensive care beds is rising again and the vaccination rate is stagnating, an infection is no substitute for vaccination. If only because also vaccinated can fall ill – even if more rarely.

An infection instead of a 3rd vaccination would probably never be an option for certain groups of people, moreover, according to Zeitlinger. “The elderly and people with poor immune systems (organ transplants or cancer patients) will continue to benefit from vaccination. It doesn’t matter if this is the third, fourth or fifth prick.” In addition, he said, vaccinated people are also in intensive care units: “True, these are people with pre-existing conditions and tend to be older, but it still shows us that the risk is not zero.”

Drosten’s proposal is still pie in the sky, Zeitlinger says, and “can only be discussed when the vaccination rate is much higher and all unvaccinated people have already been through an infection.”

Currently, the two mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna are about to be approved for 3rd vaccination. According to Zeitlinger, the time should come at the end of September or beginning of October. At that time, vulnerable groups will be vaccinated first, as well as those whose sting occurred 9 months ago. Also, people who were vaccinated in the 1st round with a vector vaccine from AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson will get the 3rd sting with an mRNA vaccine. Studies indicate good efficacy of cross-vaccination.

Zeitlinger cannot currently rule out the possibility that vaccine protection will have to be regularly fished up in the future, but sees 3 possible scenarios:

  1. the 3rd vaccination brings substantially longer immunity, so that a booster is necessary only every few years (as for example with the FSME vaccination – vaccination interval: 5 years)
  2. yes, a booster is necessary, because the immunity simply does not last that long
  3. due to the low vaccination rate worldwide, mutations continue to occur, to which the vaccines must be adapted and for good protection need the sting with the modified vaccine.

— source: heute.at/picture:pixabay.com

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