Spain will begin to administer the fourth vaccine against covid-19 from autumn in older than 80 years. Health does not rule out putting this dose also to the general population. The minister Carolina Darias he affirmed it last week, although later the department he directs qualified his words and assured “that there is no determined date”.
Even so, there are experts who do not see the need to administer, for now, this fourth dose. “We haven’t seen any indication that immunity has dropped. Immunity is lasting”, assured this Monday the immunologist of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) Margaret of the Valley in the presentation of Branyas Research Project, the largest European study on the impact of covid-19 on Spanish residences, at the CSIC delegation in Barcelona.
“Right now a fourth dose to people who respond well to the vaccine does not make sense. And those who do not respond well, instead of the fourth dose, they should be given antiretrovirals”, has defended the Val. According to the study on immunity of the Branyas project in which del Val has participated, the third dose of the vaccine already greatly increases neutralizing antibodies against the virus.
“[La tercera dosis] it is very powerful for the elderly [mayores de 80 años]”, explained the immunologist, who has participated by videoconference in the presentation of the study because she finds herself with covid-19.
Two types of immunity
exist two types of immunity: the humorous (which is marked by the amount of B lymphocytes, that of the antibodies) and the cell phone (that of the T lymphocytes). The Branyas project, which analyzes the elderly in nursing homes, shows that not only do antibodies increase in them after third dose, but also “the response of T lymphocytes is higher”, according to del Val.
“There is a response in between 55% and 75% of the residents”, the immunologist pointed out. She has also highlighted that, thanks to the vaccine, in 2021 there were “twice as many infected with covid-19” but “three times fewer deaths” in nursing homes. Another CSIC researcher who has participated in the Branyas project, Diego Ramiro, has underlined that “87% of the deaths confirmed by covid-19 in Spain had over 70 years”.
In addition, del Val explained that, if there are more reinfections in these centers, it is because the general population is becoming more reinfected. And as for the effects of ‘flu’ of covid-19, He has pointed out that this new epidemiological control system has caused more people to become infected. “However, in Spain mortality data is going down. We do not know if it is because they are not being reported or if they are really going down,” said the immunologist.
The virus in nursing homes
According to data from the Branyas project, the covid-19 has left, for the moment, 19,576 dead in residences in Spain, according to the data provided by the autonomous communities. Most of the deaths have occurred in Madrid, Catalonia, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha. Thus, those who died in nursing homes would be equivalent to 69% of the total officially notified by Health.
The Branyas research project arises as a result of the union between a community pharmacy de Vilassar de Dalt in Barcelona, the CSIC and the State Research Agency (attached to the Ministry of Science and Innovation). The objective of the study is discover why the virus has had a higher incidence in nursing home settings, with the loss of so many thousands of older people.
Through a multidisciplinary vision that integrates sociodemographic, biological, immunological and gut microbiota of already infected and unexposed people from the same group, the study aims to establish correlations that indicate special risk in the face of a future infection of unexposed persons.