1 vaccine dose may be sufficient for COVID-19 survivors, early research suggests

Gabrielle Masson -

Some people who have experienced symptomatic COVID-19 infections have reported intense side effects after one vaccine dose, leading researchers to believe two doses may not be necessary, reports The New York Times.  

In a study published Feb. 1 in medRxiv, researchers found that people who had previously been infected with COVID-19 reported fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and muscle and joint pain after the first vaccine dose more frequently than those who had never had COVID-19. COVID-19 survivors also had significantly higher antibody levels after both the first and second doses of the vaccine. The researchers concluded that people who have had COVID-19 may need only one shot. The study has yet to be peer reviewed.

"I think one vaccination should be sufficient," said Florian Krammer, PhD, a virologist at New York City-based Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and an author of the study. "This would also spare individuals from unnecessary pain when getting the second dose and it would free up additional vaccine doses."

Another study also published Feb. 1 in medRxiv supports the single dose idea, with authors concluding that those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 should be moved down the priority list and get only one vaccine while supplies are limited. The study did not explore vaccine side effects and has yet to be peer reviewed.

Changing the number of doses could create "a really tricky precedent," said E. John Wherry, PhD, director of Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Immunology. "We don't take FDA approvals of, say, a chemotherapeutic drug and then just throw out the dosage schedule," he told the NYT.

The CDC is currently investigating the severe vaccine reactions in those who have already had COVID-19, Tom Shimabukuro, MD, deputy director of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office, said Jan. 27.

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US vaccinations outnumber COVID-19 cases; reinfection more likely if variants become dominant — 7 updates

Some people who experienced symptomatic COVID-19 infections

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