A small study conducted by a team of scientists at the University of California Los Angeles has potentially uncovered the key to beating the coronavirus.
They analysed the potency of the antibodies in three different groups of volunteers: unvaccinated people with previous COVID infection, fully vaccinated people who had no prior infection, and those who got jabbed following previous infection.
Of the three groups, the scientists found that the people who had more effective and potent antibodies that protect individuals from the virus were those who had a combination of prior infection and vaccination. Given that they examined blood from people who were infected before April 2020, they were unable to check the neutralizing antibodies’ effectiveness on the Delta and Omicron variants. But authors do suggest that antibodies in people with this key combination could target mutated spikes as effectively as the original spike. They wrote:
We confirmed that some mutations reduce the ability of antibodies to neutralize the spike protein, whether the antibodies were from past infection or vaccination.
Upon retesting the previously infected persons after vaccination, their antibodies gained the same ability to neutralize mutated spike as the original spike, suggesting that the combination of infection and vaccination drove the production of enhanced antibodies to reach a maximal level of potency.
Authors have also added that booster vaccinations may help with enhancing the efficacy of the antibodies. They stated:
The results suggest that booster vaccinations may help improve efficacy against spike variants through improving not only antibody quantity, but also quality.
The study was published in the journal mBio and authors hope it will help researchers find the best combination of antibodies that can beat the virus.