Speed Reads

Solving COVID

COVID-19 survivors may be protected with just 1 vaccine dose, early studies suggest

As COVID-19 vaccine doses remain in short supply, new preliminary studies suggest only giving one dose to people who've recovered from the disease is enough to protect them from reinfection.

Past studies have shown COVID-19 survivors are left with antibodies that help protect them from reinfection for at least a few months, depending on how severe their infection was. Multiple not-yet-peer-reviewed studies still suggest they need another boost from a vaccine. But when they get the first dose of the two-dose regimens approved in the U.S., they see far higher levels of protection than people who get the first dose but weren't previously infected, suggesting that one shot is all they need for now.

"Everyone should get vaccinated. Not everybody needs two shots," Viviana Simon, a professor of microbiology at New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the author of one study, summed it up to The Wall Street Journal. "As long as we can't deliver as much vaccine to everybody who wants it, I think it's an important consideration." That first dose is especially important for COVID-19 survivors when it comes to fighting off the B.1.351 variant of the virus, as studies show COVID-19 survivors' natural immunity may not be as effective as a vaccine against the strain.

These studies come after other research suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at least 85 percent effective after just one dose and Moderna is at least 92 percent, leading some scientists to recommend holding off on distributing second doses until more at-risk populations get the first.