Combination vaccines against Covid-19 tested

Immune response stronger than after two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.

The German Center for Infection Research participates in the coordination of research on COVID-19 vaccines.

© fernando zhiminaicela auf Pixabay

People under the age of 60 who initially received a vaccine from AstraZeneca should be given an mRNA vaccine at their second appointment. This is recommended by the German Standing Committee on Vaccination. However, up until now, there were no data available to indicate to what extent the human organism would react to such a combined vaccination and start to form antibodies. A team of researchers, among others of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), has now proven that the antibody response is much stronger with the combination vaccine than with two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Researchers at Technische Universität München (TUM), Helmholtz Zentrum München, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Universitätsklinikum Köln and DZIF have now investigated immune response of combination vaccines within the framework of a retrospective scientific study. They took blood samples from 500 people who received a second vaccination with the mRNA vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer nine weeks after their first AstraZeneca vaccine.

The result: The neutralising antibody response was much higher in these people than in those who had received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The immune response to combination vaccines has proven to be just as good as the antibody response after two vaccinations with the mRNA vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer.

Combination vaccines in case of allergies or short supply

Based on the data they collected, the researchers have come to the conclusion that combination vaccines are a valid option. The combination is even more effective than two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and might be used, for example, in individuals with allergies or if there are bottlenecks with supplies. The researchers also hope that the combination vaccine will be a further building block that can be used to improve the overall effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccination. However, more studies are required to confirm the safety and clinical effectiveness of using this and other combination vaccines.

The study was able to be carried out so quickly thanks to assistance from several different parties: the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts as part of the CoVaKo-2021 project and the FOR-COVID consortium, the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) and the vaccination network VACCELERATE (funded by the EU programme Horizon 2020). The aim of CoVaKo-2021 and FOR-COVID is for scientists to monitor the introduction of Covid-19 vaccinations in Bavaria. The study was mainly conducted by the three principal investigators Prof. Dr. Ulrike Protzer from Munich, Prof. Dr. Oliver Cornely from Cologne - both scientists at the DZIF, and Prof. Dr. Klaus Überla from Erlangen.

Source: TUM press release

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