Corona virus: who will still need the vaccination in the future?
On January 27, 2020, the first corona infection in Germany was confirmed. The situation has now calmed down. But what does this mean for the future of vaccination against Sars-Cov-2?
Large vaccination centers are closed, incidence values have receded into the background. And the Covid-19-Vaccination certificate? Hasn’t been shown for a long time. Clinics have heard that Covid 19 patients have become part of everyday life. Despite these developments: Even three years after the first confirmed corona case in Germany on January 27, 2020, considerations about vaccination against corona are not obsolete. An overview.
New vaccines adapted to the omicron variant have been available for several months. According to the recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), certain groups, such as people over 60, should receive a second booster vaccination to improve protection against a severe course of the disease. However, the vaccination rates for second boosters have so far been low and vary greatly from region to region. “In the meantime I was disappointed. I would have preferred a greater acceptance of the recommended vaccinations desired,” says Stiko boss Thomas Mertens.
Despite vaccination gaps, the bottom line is that experts speak of good basic immunity. Virologist Christian Drosten recently gave the podcast “Coronavirus-Update” to consider that the virus is now much more transmissible than at the beginning of the pandemic. One of the main reasons for the relative calm at the moment is the population immunity, which is curbing the spread of the pathogen.
Research will keep an eye on how long this protection lasts. “In the future, we will have to monitor this very closely when new variants appear, for example on the basis of hospital admissions,” said the director of the Berlin Charité Clinic for Infectious Diseases. Leif Eric Sander. Even if there is no data for longer periods of time because of the still relatively new nature of Sars-CoV-2, some researchers see reason for optimism. The immunologist Andreas Radbruch, for example, assumes lasting immunity based on the data on the first Sars virus (2002/03).
Future Fall Boosters?
Some doctors express the idea that in future vaccination against Corona should always be carried out in autumn, as before the flu epidemic. However, Sander is skeptical as to whether the coming corona waves will fall as predictably in the winter months as is typically the case with flu: “It will take a while before we really have synchronous, strictly seasonal corona waves.” Therefore, regular corona vaccinations for certain vulnerable groups are conceivable every one to two years.
And what does the Stiko say? One must assume that primarily certain risk groups should receive further booster vaccinations in the future, says Mertens. It is not yet possible to scientifically name the exact time interval, but a one-year interval might be reasonable.
who are particularly at risk
To put it very simply, one could say that the risk of a severe course of Covid 19 disease increases with age and the number of previous illnesses, says the Stiko boss. “In detail, everyone has to discuss this with their doctor.” In addition, there are people whose immune system is not working 100 percent due to illness and/or medication – according to Mertens, further protective measures such as distance and masks can also be useful for them. According to Sander, people for whom the vaccination does not work at all should be treated very early in the event of a corona infection. “For example, with antiviral preparations, the risk of a serious illness can be reduced very significantly.”
Protection against (re)infection
“The protection against serious illness through vaccination is very good, but avoiding reinfection is only possible for a short period of time with vaccination,” said Mertens. For people without risk of severe Covid-19, he therefore currently does not expect the vaccination recommendation to be expanded. For the Charité infectiologist Sander, it is conceivable that younger people with a healthy immune system may only need a refresher every few years – if the virus itself does not provide the refresher with repeated infections. Further developed vaccines can also be expected in the future.
As is well known, the time of baiting campaigns, such as free bratwurst for those who want to be vaccinated, is over. Strenuous, long-term work is ahead in order to reach people at risk with vaccination offers in the future, said Sander. One thing bothers him: “In retrospect, some are now spreading the narrative that the corona vaccination was superfluous. In fact, it was the decisive switch to get out of the pandemic.”
The first evidence of a corona infection in Germany was announced in Bavaria on January 27, 2020. As of January 20, 2023, more than 37.6 million laboratory-confirmed cases were reported to the RKI. There are countless more under the radar. The number of people who died in this connection is now more than 160,000.