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Eight-week gap between Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shots generates strong immune response against Delta Variant

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A longer interval as long as an eight-week between doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine results in greater total antibody levels than a shorter gap, according to British research published on Friday.

Although two doses of COVID-19 vaccine remain protective, the study’s findings may assist vaccine efforts against the Delta variant.

“For the longer dosing interval … neutralizing antibody levels against the Delta variant were poorly induced after a single dose, and not maintained during the interval before the second dose,” said the authors of the study from the University of Oxford.

“Following two vaccine doses, neutralizing antibody levels were twice as high after the longer dosing interval compared with the shorter dosing interval.”

T cells, as well as neutralising antibodies, are believed to have a role in immunisation to the coronavirus.

T cell counts were found to be 1.6 times lower with the lengthy interval than with the 3-4 week dosing schedule, although there was a greater percentage of “helper” T cells with the long gap.

In a trial involving 503 healthcare professionals, both dosage schedules generated a significant antibody and T cell response.

After the second dosage is given, the immune system is more resistant to Delta than before, according to the results, which were published as a pre-print.

Although Pfizer cautioned that there was no evidence to justify a shift away from a three-week gap, Britain increased the time between vaccination doses to 12 weeks in December.

The United Kingdom now recommends an 8-week interval between vaccination doses in order to provide more individuals with high levels of protection against Delta more rapidly while keeping optimising immune responses over time.

Susanna Dunachie, the study’s co lead investigator, told reporters that:

“I think the 8 week is about the sweet spot”.

For the UK’s current situation, she said:

“Eight weeks is about the sweet spot for me, because people do want to get the two vaccine [doses] and there is a lot of Delta out there right now.

“Unfortunately, I can’t see this virus disappearing, so you want to balance that against getting the best protection that you can.”

Dr Rebecca Payne, one of the study authors, from Newcastle University, stated:

“Our study provides reassuring evidence that both dosing schedules generate robust immune responses against Sars-CoV-2 after two doses.

“We now need to carry out more follow-up studies to understand the full clinical significance of our findings.”

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