How to get ‘super-immunity’ and greater protection against COVID-19

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 2:14 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As we’ve previously reported on Action 2 News, doctors are still encouraging everyone who is eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

New research is revealing a phenomenon some scientists call ‘super-immunity.’ A status achieved by those who are both vaccinated and were previously infected with COVID-19.

Recent scientific findings show it can give people special antibodies that are more flexible in fighting coronavirus variants. Potentially even those which have yet to emerge.

To read the October 2021 New England Journal of Medicine article investigating evolving antibodies and vaccine effectiveness, CLICK HERE.

“When these stories came out, I talked to one of my colleagues who did [previously have COVID-19], and I was like, ‘not that I wanted COVID but, wow!’” Dr. Mary Beth Graham, the medical director of Infection Prevention and Control for Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, recollected. “‘You now have this kind of superpower.’”

These encouraging findings doctors hope will incentivize people to still get their vaccine even if they think they have enough protection after being previously infected.

“I wouldn’t encourage people to go out and get COVID because then they plan on getting vaccinated and having this good hybrid immunity,” University of Wisconsin Health chief quality officer, Dr. Jeff Pothof, emphasized. “In the U.S. there are over three-quarters of a million people who maybe were trying that strategy and they’re dead. COVID is a dangerous disease. You shouldn’t try to get it.”

With concerns over the omicron variant on the rise, people with hybrid-immunity may be at an advantage.

“Those individuals may even have more protection against emerging variants,“ Dr. Graham highlighted.

“Scientists think that this type of immunity is the long-lasting immunity and the one that will prevent and block the virus to replicate,” Dr. Raul Mendoza, an Aurora BayCare Medical Center pulmonologist (a physician who specializes in the respiratory system), said. “It will block the transmission to others and that will be key to stop the pandemic.”

Two studies analyzing hybrid-immunity antibodies fighting the coronavirus have also been published in bioRxiv and Science.

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