Journal of Public Health and Primary Care

: 2023  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 57-

COVID-19 pandemic and original antigenic sin: Future implications on vaccination policy

Suraj Kapoor 
 Department of Community Medicine, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Suraj Kapoor
Department of Community Medicine, Armed Forces Medical College, Solapur Road, Wanowrie, Pune - 411 040, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Kapoor S. COVID-19 pandemic and original antigenic sin: Future implications on vaccination policy.J Public Health Prim Care 2023;4:57-57

How to cite this URL:
Kapoor S. COVID-19 pandemic and original antigenic sin: Future implications on vaccination policy. J Public Health Prim Care [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 May 29 ];4:57-57
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Full Text

Original antigenic sin also known as antigenic imprinting was first described in 1960, by Francis,[1] while studying the response to seasonal flu revaccination, with the lesser immune response on re-vaccination. It is the phenomenon in which, after subsequent exposure to a different antigen variant of the same virus, the immune system produces antibodies of lesser strength and specificity. This immune trapping mechanism is also known as “Hoskins' paradox” or “negative interference,” which means that with another vaccination for a virus that uses antigenically dissimilar strains, the immune system and, to a lesser extent, decreasing the protective efficacy of the second vaccine.[2],[3]

In revaccination, the body's defence system utilizes the initial imprinting and simply alters the B-cell clonotypes, modifying them to the new antigen. This phenomenon leaves persons with a restricted, preestablished immune response.[4] A similar phenomenon of original antigenic sin has been established for viruses such as dengue and human papillomavirus.

Many countries across the globe are thinking of giving second boosters to the population. However, the recently published literature done among non-human primates suggested regardless of whether the booster was from the original vaccine or the Beta-specific version, similar increases in neutralizing antibody levels were observed,[5] indicating a possible original antigenic sin mechanism for the COVID-19 and its mutants. Hence, health policymakers and government officials should develop scientific and authentic policies for further booster dosages against COVID-19. This is particularly important in the context of existing variants of concerns. It would be a prudent and efficient strategy to limit further boosters for the vulnerable population only rather than going for mass vaccination.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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2Vatti A, Monsalve DM, Pacheco Y, Chang C, Anaya JM, Gershwin ME. Original antigenic sin: A comprehensive review. J Autoimmun 2017;83:12-21.
3Yewdell JW, Santos JJS. Original antigenic sin: How original? How sinful? Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2021;11:a038786.
4Kelvin AA, Zambon M. Influenza imprinting in childhood and the influence on vaccine response later in life. Euro Surveill 2019;24:10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2019.24.48.1900720.
5Corbett KS, Gagne M, Wagner DA, O' Connell S, Narpala SR, Flebbe DR, et al. Protection against SARS-CoV-2 beta variant in mRNA-1273 vaccine-boosted nonhuman primates. Science 2021;374:1343-53.