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Interviewer: Professor John Wherry, thank you very much for
taking the time to do this interview with us today,
to discuss mRNA vaccine-induced immunity in recovered patients,
versus that induced in COVID-naïve individuals.
First of all, with respect to the investigation you
recently published in the journal Science Immunology,
what approach did you employ to examine overall immune
responsiveness to vaccinations of COVID-naïve individuals, compared
to those of recovered patients?
Prof. Wherry: First of all, thanks for having me on the podcast,
I'm delighted to talk about this work.
When we hear about immunity to these COVID-19 vaccines
we often hear about antibodies, because they're quite easy to measure in the blood,
and we can do that in lots of patients over a short period of time.
But the immune response actually uses multiple layers
of cell types and responses to protect us from infections.
We looked not only at antibodies in the blood, but we also looked at the
cells that make those antibodies, called memory B-cells.
That gives us a way to understand what the potential is to make
new antibodies in the future, should the antibodies that we have circulating fail.
We think about the antibodies working like sticking a piece of gum in a lock.
That way the key (that's the virus) can't fit into the lock.
If the antibodies go down though, we have a cellular system that's a backup,
and if we should get infected these memory B-cells can help make
new antibodies very quickly, to gum up the lock that the virus is using.
It's very difficult to measure these memory B-cells compared to antibodies,
so we decided it would be important to understand that and spend a little bit of effort