Memory B cells, which are important components of the body’s immune response, continue to evolve and grow more vital for several months, producing highly potent antibodies that can neutralize new variants of the virus.
According to one study, natural COVID-19 infection produces a stronger secondary immune response than the vaccine. Vaccine-induced memory B cells, on the other hand, are less robust, evolving for only a few weeks and never ‘learning’ to protect against variants.
Memory B Cell
COVID vaccines generate more antibodies than the immune system does following a coronavirus infection. However, when it comes to memory B cells, the immune system’s response to infection appears to outperform its response to vaccines.
If the effect is replicated in children who are unlikely to develop COVID symptoms, it suggests that natural immunity may be more effective than vaccination in protecting them.
In many people, whether antibodies are induced by infection or vaccination, their levels drop within six months.
However, memory B cells are ready to produce new antibodies if the body comes into contact with the virus.
Before this study, there was little information on how vaccine-induced B cells differed from infection-induced B cells. The researchers warn that the benefits of stronger memory B cells following infection do not outweigh the risks of COVID.
“While a natural infection may induce maturation of antibodies with broader activity than a vaccine does, a natural infection can also kill you,” said study leader Michel Nussenzweig of Rockefeller University, in a statement. “A vaccine won’t do that and, in fact, protects against the risk of serious illness or death from infection.”
It comes after another study found that the Delta variant of the virus does not appear to cause more severe disease in children than earlier forms of the virus.
The researchers lacked information on group differences that could have influenced the results, such as whether or not lockdowns were in place and the effects of different seasons.
‘Our data suggest that clinical characteristics of COVID due to the Delta variant in children are broadly similar to COVID due to other variants,’ the researchers concluded.
This appears to be consistent with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States (CDC).
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said of her Delta-driven wave statement that although they see more cases in children, these studies demonstrated no increased disease severity in children.
‘More children have COVID because there is more disease in the community.’