As vaccines are being rolled out to end the COVID-19 pandemic, several questions have been raised. One of them being if taking multiple vaccines could increase immunity against COVID-19.
As the wrath of COVID-19 rages on, several people have been asking for a vaccine to put an end to the Coronavirus for once and for all. As several vaccines have been approved for authorisations such as Pfizer and Moderna for administering vaccines to the masses, Many people are concerned about the vaccine’s effectiveness.
But no one wants to be in the grasp of a pandemic for another year right? With another new and highly contagious COVID-19 strain wreaking havoc in the UK and now other parts of the world, no one wants to imagine 2021 in lockdowns and isolation again. So several questions have popped up about vaccines and their effectiveness against the COVID-19 virus in the long term.
One of those questions is, can I take two different types of COVID-19 vaccines to protect myself even more? Although this question may seem redundant, it isn’t according to scientists but rather, it’s one of the most important questions to begin conservation about vaccines, as many more are expected to roll out in 2021.
Scientists respond as to why having two different vaccines can protect you more than having only one type of vaccine.
As more than 200 vaccines are being developed around the world globally, there are vaccines which target different parts of the virus, from the spike protein, protein coats to the m-RNA vaccines, all have only two motives, to put an end to the pandemic and build a robust immunity against the virus. So, should I take two different vaccines to protect myself even better from the virus?
According to Florian Krammer, professor of vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City: “This isn’t a ridiculous question at all. We do this all the time in research. We use different vaccine platforms because, sometimes, we get interesting results.”
Before we go any further, let us discuss what do dual or multiple-dose vaccines mean. When you are inoculated with the first dose of a vaccine, your body has been introduced to fragments of the pathogens. That won’t make you ill, but your immunity will be activated to destroy those fragments.
However, to make sure your immunity still remembers the action response against the inactive fragments and the immunity against the pathogen isn’t wearing off, many vaccines have been backed up by booster doses like influenza. Booster shots are administered after a few months or years which will reinstall the immune response as well as strengthen the immunity even further.
Since your immunity has a memory, so when the actual pathogen attacks you, your body will remember the virus and they will end up destroying the virus without you being affected much.
Alessandro Sette, a professor at the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California explains it even further: “In cases where you’d have a concern that the vaccine is losing efficacy, the most straightforward measure you would take would be to have a booster. Yet because you’ve already received the first shot, your body already has a head start. “A booster induces a recall response. You start from immune memory. That’s the beauty of it.”
However, what is not known, is if your body will gain an even stronger response against the pathogens if you receive vaccines with different parts of the pathogens. This is known as “heterologous prime-boost,” in immunology. Some studies even indicate that those could help in developing more effective vaccines against diseases like Tuberculosis, HIV, Malaria, etc.
According to Brian Baker, professor at the Drew University says: “If you had two different vaccines that used different parts of the virus, you would make two different immune responses instead of getting a boost to the first one.”
This could mean that your body will effectively develop a stronger response against the pathogen. This process has been explored around in laboratories, but what is yet unknown is the combinations of two different vaccines against the same pathogen.
So there is a probable reason for taking different types of the same vaccine, For Example, the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford utilises viral-vector platforms for the possibility that a body might develop immunity against the adenovirus in it. The adenovirus used in the vaccine was the one which infected chimpanzees.
According to Krammer: “We don’t have immunity against those, but we might develop immunity after the first shot, in which case the second dose might be less effective.”
The dangers against mixing vaccines in the body.
The probable dangers of injecting multiple types of vaccine need to yet be discussed and researched. However, one may not know the vaccine they’re being inoculated with. For example, if you were administered a Moderna vaccine as your first shot against the Coronavirus, you can be potentially administered a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine.
This wouldn’t necessarily cause any potential harm to your body, However, it is essential to take the booster shots of both the vaccines, otherwise, both will fall ineffective.
Barker adds: “If you had two different vaccines that used different parts of the virus, you would make two different immune responses instead of getting a boost to the first one. It might further boost your immune response, but whether that boost matters is not clear. More doesn’t necessarily last longer in your body. At some point, you get enough of a response, so more doesn’t add anything.”
So while there isn’t a lot of documented danger against having mixing multiple vaccines of the same pathogen, for COVID-19 it would be smart to not go and mix up the vaccines as this is a new disease with a new vaccine, which many even researchers don’t know a lot about.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C reveals: “I don’t think we have nearly enough information that people should start mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines. It’s a novel virus with a novel vaccine. We shouldn’t rush into it.”
So there you have it, while you can take multiple vaccines against COVID-19, as this is caused by a new virus, it would be smart to not do it and continue taking the same form of vaccine until further research reveals more about the virus.