Vaccine and Immune Response Efficacy Against SARS-CoV-2 Variants 

April 6, 2021

The NIH published a news release on a recent NIAID study evaluating blood samples of COVID-19 patients to determine the efficacy of vaccines and the immune system’s ability to recognize and combat new SARS-CoV-2 variants. 

The emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants has raised concerns across the scientific community in regard to variant severity. COVID-19 variants are mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which ultimately make the virus less recognizable to antibodies and have the possibility to impact immune response and vaccine efficacy in future COVID-19 infections.

The study focused on CD8+ T cells; these are critical in establishing adaptive immunity against the virus by recognizing and killing viral proteins. The NIAID’s findings determined that the CD8+ T cells “are largely not affected by the mutations found in these variants, and should offer protection against emerging variants.” Prime immunity through vaccination and antibody creation requires strong CD8+ T cell responses to recognize and protect against evolving SARS-CoV-2 strains. Investigators noted that more research is needed in understanding T cell defense against current and variant strains of SARS-CoV-2. That being said, this study provides a greater understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is critical in developing vaccines with high efficacy rates against variants. 

Neon Turquoise colorized scanning electron micrograph of a T cell
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a T cell. Credit: NIAID, NIH