How long is the vaccine suitable for travel?
Gary Leff at 17. March 2021.
The vaccines licensed so far in the United States have proved highly effective not only against symptomatic infection, but also, and above all, against the severe form of covida leading to hospitalisation and death and, it is learnt, against asymptomatic infection, which means that vaccination reduces the spread of the disease. We don’t know how long this defense will last, because there hasn’t been enough time to make that decision. And it’s a problem for policymakers debating whether vaccinated travelers should be allowed to travel without testing or quarantine.
That’s one of the problems with the idea of an immunization card, that we don’t know how such a document will be deemed valid, because we don’t know how long the protection will last. Conventional wisdom says we need recalls, and research is developing to determine when, but it is also likely that the protection will last for some time, although it will weaken over time.
The CDC says: We do not know how long the protection lasts for those who have been vaccinated.
We know that natural immunity in most people who are infected lasts quite a long time unless they develop antibodies. Although there is concern and some evidence of reinfection with the South African and Brazilian strains, documented cases of reinfection remain limited, although the virus has changed, and there is little evidence (yet) that reinfections are the same or more severe than the original infections. Approved Covid-19 vaccines cause more anitbic reactions to the virus than those found in cured patients.
Ultimately, we don’t know how long the protection of the Covid 19 vaccine will last because not enough time has passed to tell us. For example, the first dose of the Soverna vaccine was administered to a patient in a clinical trial just a year ago.
In other words: We have no way of knowing how to really protect ourselves if the defense takes a year to come through. We can’t know if a defense will last two years until two years have passed. What we can do is test the immune response over time, and if it drops, we can extrapolate it and make reasoned guesses.
Points Guy answered the question about the duration of protection, but I do not think the measure he is proposing is right, because it would not simply be a function of the antibody levels of those vaccinated,
At the moment, we don’t know because we are witnessing the experiment, said Dr. Jenny Yu, head of medical integrity at Healthline (which is owned by Red Ventures, like The Points Guy). Over time, the antibody levels of the first group of people who received the vaccines in the clinical trial will tell us how long that immunity lasts.
To determine how long the protection lasts, we must :
- Follow vaccinated individuals over time to see when their immunity declines. We will no longer have a placebo group to compare with, but we will be able to make statistical comparisons with later vaccinations, with people who choose not to be vaccinated, and with earlier periods.
- Examining the immune response in the blood of vaccinated individuals over time. Contra The Points Guy does not take blood or test for antibodies that tell us how long the immune response lasts, but rather exposes the blood taken to SARS-CoV-2 and observes the immune response – the antibodies may drop without the presence of the virus, but by looking only at the antibodies one misses the role of T cells in the response to the virus, as well as memory B cells.
- Larger data sets than in the first study because the immune response varies from individual to individual. In the first model series study, 45 healthy young adults were treated with different doses. It doesn’t tell us how long the defense holds up in different age groups and physical conditions, even now, a year later.
Human trials are currently being conducted in the United Kingdom. This would be another way to test continued effectiveness – exposing vaccinated people to the virus after a certain period of time to see if they retain an immune response. A safer and more foolproof treatment will likely be needed before the medical community will consider it ethical for this purpose.
It is the uncertainty that complicates policy making in this area. The glasses man saw it too,
Earlier this week, New York State announced that it would facilitate the entry and quarantine of individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Domestic travelers will now not have to go through quarantine if they are vaccinated within 90 days.
However, this is no longer entirely accurate. The change was made two weeks ago (March 3, not this week), and the state stated then that domestic travelers will be able to travel to the U.S. starting March 1. April doesn’t need to be quarantined at all, whether she’s vaccinated or not.
However, New York City’s initial plan to quarantine passengers arriving after vaccination for 90 days shows uncertainty about how long the protection will last. We know it’s been over 3 months and we keep seeing data on how long it’s been.
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