A research letter published in JAMA on 7 February 2022 indicates the durability of anti-spike antibodies in infants after maternal Covid-19 vaccination or natural infection.
The study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that the majority of infants born to mothers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 had persistent anti-S antibodies at the young age of 6 months, compared to infants born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Understanding the persistence of maternal antibody levels in infants is important, according to the study, as vaccines are not planned for administration to infants younger than 6 months at this stage.
Covid-19 infections in this age group also account for an inconsistent burden of paediatric SARS-CoV-2-associated illness – another reason why this study is significant.
In the study, 77 vaccinated pregnant mothers and 12 with symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy were included, and the results indicated that vaccination ensured significantly greater antibody persistence in infants than infection.
At six months, 57% of infants born to vaccinated mothers had detectable antibodies, compared to 8% of infants born to infected mothers.
Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy. Image: iStock
Andrea Edlow is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist at MGH, director of the Edlow Lab in the Vincent Centre for Reproductive Biology, and a co-senior author of the publication. She says: “The durability of the antibody response here shows vaccination not only provides lasting protection for mothers, but also antibodies that persist in a majority of infants to at least six months of age.
“Many interested parties, from parents to paediatricians, want to know how long maternal antibodies persist in infants after vaccination, and now we can provide some answers.
“We hope these findings will provide further incentive for pregnant people to get vaccinated, especially with the emergence of new variants of concern like Omicron.”
Galit Alter, core member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, and co-senior author of the study, says that pregnant women are at extremely high risk for serious complications from Covid-19.
And, given the lag in development of Covid-19 vaccines for infants, the data of this study should motivate mothers to get vaccinated and even boosted during pregnancy to empower their babies’ defences against the Covid-19 infection.
This study should serve as a great resource, not only in the medical world, but also for mothers to be who feel uncertain and overwhelmed when it comes to Covid-19, its possible repercussions and the current preventative measures available.