Covid vaccine update: How long will a person’s immunity last? Expert weighs in

Sainsbury’s outline their latest coronavirus guidelines

Just before Christmas, a new UK variant of COVID-19 was identified, which is thought to be behind the huge surge in cases, particularly in London and the south east of England. Whilst there is currently no evidence to suggest it is more likely to lead to serious illness, the new strain is thought to be able to spread quicker, meaning more people are becoming infected and needing hospital treatment. The national UK COVID-19 vaccination programme began on Tuesday, providing a glimmer of hope that the pandemic may soon be drawing to a close, but mystery still remains regarding one’s immunity and how long it may last. Dr Chris Morris, GP and Medical Director for HealthHero spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to shed some light on this matter.

“It is certainly welcome news that the UK has approved the use of a third vaccine, developed by US company Moderna,” said Dr Morris.

“In total, the UK has now ordered over 350 million doses of the three approved vaccines, to immunise the population as quickly as possible.

“All COVID-19 vaccines require a second booster shot, but according to Public Health England, there is evidence that a longer interval between the first and second doses promotes a stronger immune response with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The health body also reported there is no reason to believe the immune response from the Pfizer vaccine will differ from that of AstraZeneca’s.

“With this in mind, the UK is pressing on with trying to give a first dose to as many people as possible.”

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When asked about how long one’s immunity may last, Dr Morris answered: “Since these vaccines have only been in use for a short period of time, unfortunately, our knowledge surrounding how long immunity will last following one, or both doses of the vaccine are rather limited.

“Everything depends on immunologic memory, and scientists have not yet been able to systematically measure it in relation to COVID-19.

“Public Health England announced protective immunity from the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and that we’ve got up to 12 weeks to give the second dose to maximise the immune response.

“No statement has been made on how long immunity will last following both doses however, neither for the AstraZeneca, nor the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines.

“Over the coming months, experts will be monitoring the vaccine and what happens next, but it may be some years before we know the answers to these questions.”

Vaccines are known to train a person’s immune system.

It works by creating a memory of that specific virus so when you encounter the real virus in the future, it responds faster and more efficiently.

This in turn helps to prevent infection and stop a person from getting seriously sick.

Vaccines offer long-term immunity.

A person can play their part in the fight against the pandemic by downloading the ZOE COVID Symptoms Study app and taking just a minute every day to log your health and any side effects after you have received your vaccine.

Dr Morris added: “Currently, it seems the symptoms are the same as the more familiar strain.

“Remember that despite there being lots of reports around new and emerging symptoms, there are just three main symptoms you need to look out for.

“These are a new and continuous cough, a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell and a high temperature.

“Other symptoms reported by COVID-19 sufferers include fatigue, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, headache, chills and gastrointestinal problems.

“However, these are less common, and you should only get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing these in conjunction with one of the three primary symptoms.

“The implementation and further expansion of technology within the healthcare system, such as HealthHero’s digital triage service, Doctorlink, will help us better track symptoms and understand the progression of illnesses in the future.”

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