I am getting tired of the scare tactics that news and media sources are using to get you to click on headlines. Headlines in some press releases drive me bananas:
New study: Nursing home residents, health care workers lose more than 80% of their COVID-19 immunity six months after Pfizer vaccine
No, no, NO, NO. That is not what the study shows. Here are the facts as I see them from reading the pre-released paper.
Scientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine report on levels of anti-spike and anti-receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies in nursing home (NH) residents and in healthcare workers who care for them. In the NH group, antibody titers did drop more than 80%. A drop in antibody levels in healthcare workers was also seen but went from 2% having undetectable antibodies to 16%. Another way of describing the data would be to say instead of 62 out of 64 healthcare workings having detectable antibodies, 54 out of 64 did. In addition, the study only looks at levels of antibody in the serum, not at the readiness of the rest of the immune system to fight COVID. There is a lot more to immunity than antibodies. It is not at all clear what this means for infection, disease severity, or death.
Data from the CDC looking at the number of breakthrough infections showed that during the period from January 1–April 30, 2021, there were a total of 10,262 SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections. Since during this time it was estimated that 101 million people in the US were fully vaccinated, it appears that breakthrough infections are extremely rare. Across the United States, the number of breakthrough cases in the vaccinated is less than 1%. This seems to contradict the data about immunity as measure solely by antibody levels. So what does this mean? I suspect it indicates that antibodies levels as measured by blood tests are not a reliable measure of the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.