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Being vaccinated against COVID-19 reduces the severity of the illness

A new study reveals how COVID-19 vaccines prevent more severe forms of the disease.

Updated Covid-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna target the latest subvariants of Omicron
Updated Covid-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna target the latest subvariants of Omicron - Copyright AFP Arun SANKAR
Updated Covid-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna target the latest subvariants of Omicron - Copyright AFP Arun SANKAR

A new study reveals how COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe disease. This is based on research undertaken at the University of Oxford and it provides insights into the way that COVID-19 vaccines mitigate severe illness in those who have been vaccinated.

Despite the global success of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, concerns remain around the continued spread of this disease including in vaccinated individuals.

For this reason, researchers at the Oxford Vaccine Group conducted an extensive investigation into the human immune response to COVID-19, in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

To do so researchers undertook “big-data” analyses to find novel associations between fundamental biological entities and indicators of the severity of a disease. The study employed state-of-the-art technologies, including RNA-sequencing (to capture the level of genes produced by blood cells), to achieve these results.

This revealed a reduction in indicators of disease severity in those who had received the vaccine. In particular, the study demonstrated reduction in harmful responses associated with COVID-19 severity in recipients of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine compared with unvaccinated counterparts.

Hence, the review demonstrated that the harmful inflammatory reaction to COVID-19 is less severe in those who have been vaccinated, when compared with those who have not. COVID-19 in vaccinated individuals resulted in less COVID-19-induced blood cell count changes.

Professor Daniel O’Connor, Head of Bioinformatics at the Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG), states: “These results confirm the efficacy of vaccination and its pivotal role in reducing the harmful consequences associated with COVID-19.”

O’Connor adds: “The results of our research highlight the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine’s ability to modulate harmful responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and therefore to reduce the severity of illness.”

He goes on to add: “The implications of these findings are far-reaching, offering evidence that is fundamental to future vaccine development and pandemic mitigation strategies. It also provides valuable guidance for policymakers and public health experts.”

By improving scientific understanding of how vaccines can reduce the severity of infections caused by viruses like COVID-19, society’s preparedness to make effective vaccines against the next pandemic threat is strengthened.

Although the findings are promising, there were some limitations such as a focus on mild cases and sample size constraints. This means additional research will need to be performed.

The research has been published in the journal Nature. Then study is titled “Multi-omics analysis reveals COVID-19 vaccine induced attenuation of inflammatory responses during breakthrough disease.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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