Natural Covid infection produces a stronger secondary immune response than the vaccine, a study has claimed. 

Important components of the body's immune response called memory B cells continue to evolve and get stronger for at least several months, producing highly potent antibodies that can neutralise new variants of the virus. 

By comparison, vaccine-induced memory B cells are less robust, evolving for only a few weeks and never 'learning' to protect against variants. 

Covid vaccines do induce more antibodies than the immune system does after a coronavirus infection. 

But the immune system response to infection appears to outshine its response to vaccines when it comes to memory B cells. 

If the effect is replicated in children who are unlikely to develop Covid symptoms, it raises the prospect that they could be better protected by natural immunity than vaccination. 

Regardless of whether antibodies are induced by infection or vaccine, their levels drop within six months in many people. 

But memory B cells stand ready to produce new antibodies if the body encounters the virus. 

Prior to this study, there had been little data on how vaccine-induced B cells compare to infection-induced B cells. 

The researchers caution that the benefits of stronger memory B cells after infection do not outweigh the risks that come with Covid. 

'While a natural infection may induce maturation of antibodies with broader activity than a vaccine does, a natural infection can also kill you,' said study leader Michel Nussenzweig of Rockefeller University, in a statement. 

'A vaccine won't do that and, in fact, protects against the risk of serious illness or death from infection.' 

It comes after a separate study showed the Delta variant does not appear to cause more severe disease in children than earlier forms of the virus.

The researchers lacked information on differences between the groups that might have influenced the results, such as whether lockdowns were in place, and the effects of different seasons. 

'Our data suggest that clinical characteristics of Covid due to the Delta variant in children are broadly similar to Covid due to other variants,' the researchers concluded. 

That appears to jibe with data reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

'Although we are seeing more cases in children ... these studies demonstrated that there was not increased disease severity in children,' CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said of the Delta-driven wave in a statement. 

'More children have Covid because there is more disease in the community.'

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