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In-Depth: La Jolla Institute takes comprehensive look at COVID-19 immunity

Study compares four vaccines and natural immunity
Posted at 6:07 AM, Jun 02, 2021

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) - Researchers in La Jolla are doing the first-ever comprehensive study to find out how long immunity lasts from both COVID-19 vaccines and natural immunity.

"We're excited about this vaccine study," says Dr. Shane Crotty from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

"We want to be able to compare (vaccines) head to head and understand how well people's bodies remember these different vaccines."

The study will look at immunity levels from the Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax vaccines. They will also look at immunity levels from people who got the virus and have just natural immunity. And they'll look at people who had natural immunity and also got a vaccine.

It's the first time that a single lab has been able to study all of that at the same time.

"To have everything done under one roof is very important," says LJI Professor Dr. Alessandro Sette. "It's more comprehensive because this allows us to minimize the variation from one lab to the next."

The Institute is looking for volunteers to donate blood, especially people who got the Johnson & Johnson or Novavax vaccines.

"We've got plenty in the mRNA vaccine groups because those have been the most widespread vaccines, and they got released earlier," says Dr. Crotty. "So we're really excited to enroll more people who got the J&J vaccine because that's what we're short on at the moment."

Volunteers will give blood several times throughout the next year. The lab will break down the blood to a cellular level, separating the antibodies from the T-Cells.

The researchers hope to find out how the level of immunity changes over time.

"Everybody wants to know, with these vaccines, if you need to need a booster at one year? Do you need a booster at two years? Do you need a booster at ten years? This is the type of data we have to get," says Dr. Crotty. "If we can get sort of one-month, three-month, six-month time points, then we can really get a decent estimate about what's probably gonna happen for several years."

The study will also compare how well each vaccine works against the virus and its variants. Dr. Sette says that will help inform long-term research on mRNA vaccines.

"We will have data about different vaccine platforms or different vaccine concepts," he says. "This is going to teach us, in terms of vaccine development as a whole, a lot."

Anyone interested in participating in the study should contact The La Jolla Institute for Immunology directly.