Research has clearly established that mRNA vaccines effectively diminish severe infections and hospitalization rates.

According to a news story on the University of Wisconsin-Madsion website, scientists have uncovered new research that increases the understanding of how mRNA vaccines protect the lungs following breakthrough infections from emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

The new findings were recently published in the journal JCI Insight, which is the first study to directly demonstrate the role of memory CD8 T cells in mRNA vaccine–induced immunity to COVID-19.

Lead researcher Marulasiddappa Suresh, professor of immunology in the School of Veterinary Medicine Department of Pathobiological Sciences, stated that this study sheds new light on the protective mechanisms that mRNA vaccines use to diminish severe disease following breakthrough infections and also advances critical new inquiries about the role of memory T cells in limiting the spread of the virus, the frequency with which patients get vaccinated, and the most effective methods for vaccine delivery.

Dr. Suresh stated, “The key finding of our research shows that memory T cells play an essential role in mediating SARS-CoV-2 viral control in lungs, independent of antibodies. We hope this new understanding of vaccine-induced immunity will inform the development of new vaccines and treatment strategies that more effectively combat the emergence of global variants and limit the impact they’ll have on our health in the future.”

Findings demonstrated that the T cell response to mRNA vaccine in the peripheral blood is fundamentally comparable between mice and humans and also discovered that T cells actively pursued the virus in the respiratory tract—airways, lung vasculature, and mediastinal lymph nodes—to diminish the burden of SARS-CoV-2 in the lungs effectively.

The researchers noted that other principal findings revealed that intramuscular immunization generated surprisingly high frequencies and numbers of memory T cells in the airways of the respiratory tract, which is the primary entryway for SARS-CoV-2.

According to Dr. Suresh, additional research efforts regarding this topic will concentrate on investigating the biological significance of nasal and airway resident memory T cells in protection against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 and also ascertain if individuals who recuperate from breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections will need additional vaccinations.

Lastly, Dr. Suresh stated, “It’s still unclear if the combination of vaccine-induced immunity and infection-induced immunity is sufficient to provide broad mutation-resistant immunity to future SARS-CoV-2 variants.”

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