Washington University ICTS supports study that finds COVID-19 vaccine generates immune structures critical for lasting immunity

Ali Ellebedy, PhD, (right) an associate professor of pathology & immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, discusses data with Jackson Turner, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher.

The first two COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employed a technology that had never before been used in FDA-approved vaccines. Both vaccines performed well in clinical trials, and both have been widely credited with reducing disease, but concerns remain over how long immunity induced by the new vaccine technology will last.

Now, a study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, published June 28 in the journal Nature, has found evidence that the immune response to such vaccines is both strong and potentially long-lasting. Nearly four months after the first dose, people who received the Pfizer vaccine still had so-called germinal centers in their lymph nodes churning out immune cells directed against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Germinal centers, which form as the result of natural infection or vaccination, are boot camps for immune cells, a place where inexperienced cells are trained to better recognize the enemy and weapons are sharpened. A better germinal center response may equal a better vaccine.

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Goal 2: Engage Patients and Communities in Every Phase of the Translational Process
Goal 3: Promote the Integration of Special and Underserved Populations in Translational Research Across the Human Lifespan
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