Most people can feel confident that COVID-19 vaccines will work as intended.
Not so for immunocompromised or immunosuppressed individuals; the current vaccines not were not designed or tested with them in mind.
Still, even for this group, the vaccines’ benefits outweigh the risks—but they’ll re-enter the world with less certainty. Eventually, their experiences will help pinpoint “where, how, and in whom the shots most often falter,” The Atlantic reports.
There are other options for the immunocompromised while they wait, The New York Times reports:
- Regular monoclonal antibody infusions—man-made copies of recovered patients’ antibodies—are now being tested as a preventative measure
- And possibly: Convalescent plasma from the blood of recovered patients
But even for healthy individuals, no vaccine is 100% effective, and “breakthrough cases,” though rare, are expected. The CDC has spotted 5,800 fully vaccinated people who have contracted COVID-19—out of 66 million vaccinated Americans, Axios reports. The CDC is sequencing samples from these cases to understand whether variants play a role.
Another concern: That the initial immune system imprint left by first-generation vaccines will make it hard for second-generation vaccines—aimed at emerging variants—to confer the same level of protection, STAT reports.
Wave of the future? About 2 dozen research groups around the world are already developing ‘pancoronavirus’ vaccines that could tackle a range of menaces from this “notorious viral group” that threatens to trigger another pandemic before long, Science reports.