Scientists have found clues that the world’s leading vaccines against coronavirus COVID-19 They offer long-lasting protection that may lessen the need for frequent boosters, but caution that more research is needed and that virus mutations remain an unpredictable factor.

Critical studies are already underway, and there is growing evidence that the immunity provided by vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna based on messenger RNA does not depend exclusively on antibodies that diminish with time. The body has overlapping layers of protection that offer support.

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Pfizer and Moderna have raised questions about the need for a booster by estimating that people may require annual injections, in the same way that it happens with influenza, and companies are working to have some candidates ready by the end of this year. However, the drug companies will not decide when the boosters will be used. That decision will correspond to the health authorities of each country.

Other experts say that boosters may only be needed every few years.

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“I would be surprised if we really needed an annual boost,” said Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an advisor to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Experts highlight the ways the immune system remembers the coronavirus, so that once the original antibodies disappear, the body’s defenses can come back into action if it is exposed to COVID-19 again.

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“I feel quite optimistic. I wouldn’t rule out the need for boosters, but the immune response looks pretty impressive so far. “ stated John Wherry, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Antibodies that are created after receiving the vaccine or following a natural infection naturally decline, but there is evidence that these levels remain strong for six to nine months after receiving a messenger RNA vaccine, and possibly longer. They also look effective against worrisome mutations in the virus, at least so far.

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Scientists are still unaware of what is often called the protective correlation, the level below which antibodies can no longer fight the coronavirus without additional help.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s leading infectious disease expert, told a Senate subcommittee last week that the protection offered by the vaccine would not be infinite.

“I would assume that at some point we will need reinforcement,” Fauci said. “What we are trying to find out right now is what that interval would be.”

To date, 62.8% of the U.S. adult population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 133.6 million, or more than 40%, are fully vaccinated. The rate of new inoculations has dropped to an average below 600,000 a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The figure is close to President Joe Biden’s goal that at least 70% of the population will have received at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.

The number of infections and deaths related to the disease continue to decline. The seven-day national average for new infections fell below 17,300 Tuesday from more than 31,000 two weeks ago. Daily deaths fell from 605 to 588, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In all, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 595,000 people in the United States.

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