30% people lose Covid vaccine-acquired immunity after 6 months: Study


Hyderabad: A groundbreaking long-term study on a large pool of 1,636 healthcare workers, who had received Covid vaccines in Hyderabad, taken up by the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG), has indicated that with age, immunity levels against Covid also wane.

About 30 per cent of the participants, a majority of them above 40 years of age with pre-existing medical conditions, lost vaccine-acquired immunity after six months. The study said that 6 per cent of the healthcare workers did not even develop any immune protection at all.

The AIG study, available in preprint at Research Square preprint platform from January 14, clearly indicates that younger people have sustained levels of antibodies against Covid than the elderly population, a major reason why individuals above 40 years with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension should be prioritised for a precautionary dose after 6 months.

“Our study results were at par with other global studies where we found that almost 30 per cent of individuals had antibody levels below protective immunity levels after 6 months. These individuals were majorly above 40 years with comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes,” Dr D Nageshwar Reddy, Chairman, AIG Hospitals, who was also part of the study, said.

Individuals above 40 years of age with diabetes and hypertension of both genders may be at a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and these individuals should be prioritised for a booster dose after 6 months, the AIG study, taken up in collaboration with Asian Health Foundation, said.

“At present, the gap of 9 months for precautionary dose or booster dose benefits 70 per cent of the population, who can retain enough antibody levels beyond 6 months. However, considering the scale of our country, the 30 per cent population, especially those with comorbid conditions, who are more prone to develop infection after 6 months of getting fully vaccinated, should also be considered for the precautionary dose,” Dr Reddy said.

Referring to the Omicron variant, the top gastroenterologist said that at present, the country was witnessing a surge of infections. “Fortunately, the severity of the disease is mild because of multiple factors including the effect of vaccination, the intrinsic character of the variant itself, and natural immunity amongst the population. However, we need to devise strategies that can ensure minimal spread and protect as many people as possible. The study aimed to understand the effectiveness of current vaccines over the long-term and see if there are specific population demographic groups who need a booster at the earliest,” Dr D Nageshwar Reddy said.

Waning effect

Study indicates that with age, immunity against Covid is waning.

Younger population have more sustained antibody levels.

30 per cent of healthcare workers lost their immunity in 6 months.

Of the 1,636 participants, 93% received Covishield, 6% Covaxin and 1% Sputnik.

6 per cent of the participants did not develop immune protection at all.

Individuals above 40 years of age (both male and female) with pre-existing medical conditions losing immunity in 6 months.

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