Indian scientists studying long-term memory of covid-19 vaccination

NEW DELHI : Scientists at the Department of Biotechnology’s (DBT) are studying the long-term memory of covid-19 vaccination in the human body, including the jabs’ quality and durability.

The research outcome will have a bearing on future vaccine dosage strategies, including for booster doses.

DBT secretary Rajesh Gokhale said: “Given the large-scale covid-19 vaccination in the country, the study aims to understand long-term immune responses in the population. Memory studies are comparatively complex studies unlike antibody studies, and involve cell-based therapies that require cells’ isolation, tracking of cells, antigens and then looking at cells which is called cellular response. Those require standardization of essays, isolating the viruses and looking at the population infected and non-infected. Response of one vaccine over another vaccine.”

This study is also expected to help the government devise public health responses to future pandemics and viruses.

“We need to understand the long-term significance of our vaccination. Before covid-19 vaccination, whatever vaccines we have taken were studied for 4-5 years and then decided on. Therefore, we need to do a good study on it to know the long-term memory of vaccination in our body. We need to know if there is super-infection; then, how does it work? How good is the memory and how good is the quality and the durability? We are taking vaccination data for this and several labs under Department of Biotechnology are doing the study,” Gokhale said.

India’s covid-19 vaccination coverage has topped 1.97 billion doses.

However, only 7% of 18-60-year-olds and 40% of over-60s have been given the booster jab so far.

“Never before in this world has such a high amount of vaccination been given in such a short period of time. So, it is a fantastic way to study how to evaluate the immune response occurring in the population. And this study can provide data for several other viruses and vaccination strategies. This has got very large implications in terms of understanding of the vaccination that what is being done right now,” said Gokhale.

Talking about the recent surge in covid-19 cases, the scientist said that, “As of now, no new variant is coming and small recombinant variants are also very few. All the variants are very similar in pattern.”

India logged 11,739 new cases and 25 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The active caseload climbed to over 92,576, taking the total tally of cases to 43 million and deaths to 524,999, the government said. Unofficial estimates are far higher.

Asked why the surge is happening, DBT chief said, “These are sporadic events and they continue to occur. Because then only endemicity will occur. Endemicity will occur when you have very robust T-cell response in the nasal airway.”

“The nasal airway response is slowly growing in our country and continuing to do so. It will eventually take the pattern of flu. People should continue to wear masks and follow covid-19 appropriate behaviour.”

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