“Have you been well vaccinated?”says an ad in the Madrid metro. The advertisement wants to sell us an ELISA-type antibody test after giving us the COVID-19 vaccine; but is it really necessary to do this type of test? How does the immune system work when we get vaccinated against coronavirus? Can they vaccinate us badly?
To know if we have to do these tests, we must distinguish various assumptions. If we present symptoms between the two doses or the first fifteen days after the second injection; yes, we have to get a diagnostic test for coronavirus. This may be a PCR, a antigen test (virus proteins) and even a antibody test, although each test is done at a different time of infection. But we have already talked about that previously in Ezanime.net.
Of course you have been well vaccinated. And unless someone has € 35 left over and does not know what to spend it on, the general population does not need to check their antibody level (neither with this vaccine nor with the others). pic.twitter.com/u1mUhaYuZH
– Saturated Nurse (@EnfrmraSaturada) June 21, 2021
We might also want to know between the two doses if we have started to generate antibodies. But it must be borne in mind that after the first dose each person reacts in a different way. There will be those who have few, enough or many. But keep in mind that We have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 badly if we get few. That’s what the second dose is for. And even so, there may be people who after this also have few antibodies, what could be due to? Let’s talk about how coronavirus vaccines work.
This is how the immune system works after a vaccine
In a very summarized way, then we will see it a little more in depth, what vaccines, for example the coronavirus, do is teach the immune system the antigen or part of it so that it can recognize it in the future; but, in addition, the first antibodies are generated. The use of vaccines is key because we generate antibodies safely, that is, without developing the disease. In vaccines against COVID-19, the spike of the virus is being used as an antigen and they are being very important because they prevent many deaths.
It can be said that the immune system is like an army: soldiers are mobilized when they are needed to get rid of the enemy
After a while, the number of antibodies in the blood decreases, sometimes very drastically. But if our immune system comes into contact with the pathogen again, we immediately generate the antibodies again because the body, as we said, can recognize that it has previously fought against that enemy and that certain antibodies are the ones that killed it. Therefore, it can be said that the immune system is like an army: soldiers are mobilized when they are needed to get rid of the enemy.
All this that we have just explained also applies to when we have passed an infection. The problem is that with infections sometimes we do not generate memory cells and there may be reinfection; but we’ll talk about this a little later. Although before continuing it must be made clear that in in the case of COVID-19 immunity appears robust, even for patients who have already received the vaccine against this coronavirus.
White blood cells, essential in the immune system
Photo by Cassi Josh on Unsplash
Let’s get a little more technical now and talk about specific cells. Before generating antibodies, the immune system first has to get hold of the pathogen. This is done by the B lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cells that are dedicated to detecting invaders and immobilizing them, as indicated in Kids Health. His companions in this fight, the T lymphocytesThey are in charge of destroying the invaders. Sometimes they also have other cells such as phagocytes, which devour invading organisms. An example of these are neutrophils, which are the cells specialized in the fight against bacteria that can enter our body.
In addition to all these white blood cells, which as we have seen are very specialized cells, there are also the memory T lymphocytes. And they are, basically, the most important cells in the face of possible reinfection. To have a long-lasting active immunity, the best response that our body could generate against an infection is use T lymphocytes to create antibodies. Imagine the virus as a key and these T lymphocytes as the lock that prevents the infection from continuing, since they prevent the pathogen from entering the cells to replicate.
Antigen-presenting cells take them up and deliver them to T lymphocytes so that they find a way to prevent replication of the pathogen.
When the antigen presenting cells they capture one of these, they take them to the T lymphocytes so that they look for the lock that fits, thus preventing the pathogen from replicating in case of real infection. But with vaccines it happens the same way, only the body does not know that they cannot replicate: is a preparation exercise for our army.
“T lymphocyte-mediated immune responses to an antigen usually result in the generation of specific memory T lymphocytes against this antigen, which can persist for years, and even a lifetime, “they explain from Elsevier.” Memory cells provide a defending effective against frequent pathogenic microorganisms in the environment with which they can be repeatedly encountered. The success of the vaccination is largely attributed to the ability to generate memory cells after initial exposure to antigen “.
The safest way to produce antibodies to a serious disease without dying today is through vaccines
Immunoglobulins are the result of finding a specific lock for each pathogen. That is, they are what we commonly call antibodies. There are immunoglobulins of several types: A, G, M, E and D. These are produced specifically for each virus, bacteria or allergen. Therefore, the antibodies for chickenpox will never be the same as those for the coronavirus. And to have them, it is essential to have been exposed, in these cases, to the pathogen that triggers the immune response. For example, through vaccines against COVID-19.
The surest way to produce antibodies to a serious disease without dying today is through vaccines.
The immune system goes beyond antibodies
It’s more, the immune system goes beyond antibodies. The skin, mucous membranes and organs and tissues of the lymphatic system (thymus, spleen, lymph nodes and vessels, bone marrow) are also part, since they also they help us, one way or another, to protect ourselves from pathogens.
The skin and mucous membranes, on many occasions, prevent infection since act as a barrier. While the organs and tissues of the lymphatic system are responsible for generating or maturing all or almost all the cells of the immune system. In summary, produce, store, and transport white blood cells.
Immune system diseases that can prevent the vaccine from ‘working’
If we wanted to do a test to know the level of antibodies, the best one is the ELISA, but if we do not have immune system disorders it is to ‘throw away’ the money
Now, let’s recap. Do antibody tests really help us to know if the vaccine has worked for us? Rapid tests measure Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and what we would need to see is the response of the memory T lymphocytes to SARS-CoV-2; as are the ones that last the longest and those that will give us more protection. Therefore, the rapid tests would not work, but the ELISA tests, which are the ones in the advertisement, could be useful. However, if you do not have a disease in the immune system, the normal thing is that the antibodies generated by the vaccine are effective; although they descend in the analytics. Therefore, with few exceptions, taking an ELISA antibody test would be considered a waste of money, as Nurse Saturated says in her tweet.
But as we said, there are some diseases that prevent us from generating antibodies or a response with T lymphocytes that may last longer. The disorders that can cause us not to generate a good response are usually those of immunodeficiency. Many are genetic; although in certain cases they can be acquired, such as untreated HIV; as it causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (better known as AIDS). Between the disorders of this type of genetic origin are complement deficiencies, agammaglobulinemia or Job’s syndrome, among other. Perhaps if we are faced with this situation, it would be interesting to perform an antibody test after getting the coronavirus vaccine.
In short, if we do not have an immunodeficiency disorder, the immune system would be like our army and mobilize soldiers when needed. Therefore, our blood is cleaned of antibodies from the different diseases that we have experienced the rest of the time, because those soldiers are not necessary. But if one day we coincide with the virus again, the immune system will mobilize again to the antibody troops that are specific for that pathogen, in this case it would be COVID-19. In addition, there are many other diseases for which we have already shown that vaccines work and we have not had a test to prove it. Why for these coronavirus vaccines yes?