Hi everyone! My name is Rory de Vries, I am a virologist and workgroup leader at the Department of Viroscience, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam. I was a coach for several years in the beginning of Viruskenner (including two trips to generate awareness in Indonesia), and have been a panelist during the finals of Viruskenner for the last couple of years.
Since the start of the pandemic, my work focuses on immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 after infection (at first), with a switch to immune responses after vaccination later on (which is of course still ongoing). In these studies, we follow healthy study participants (mostly students and employees of the Erasmus MC), but also severely immunocompromised patients, after vaccination and study all components of the immune response.
We found that all vaccines used in the Netherlands efficiently activate the immune system, Moderna a bit better than others, AstraZeneca not so good, and that booster vaccinations are essential for antibodies to recognize the new SARS-CoV-2 variants (Omicron for now, but probably also future variants). It also appeared extremely difficult to protect severely immunocompromised patients (like lung or kidney transplant recipients), who sometimes require 4 or 5 vaccinations until immune responses can be measured. For now, and in the future, we will continue monitoring the immune responses to (booster) vaccinations on the longer term, but I am also looking forward to re-start my pre-pandemic research (which focused on measles virus and respiratory syncytial virus).
I wish everyone in the Viruskenner project great fun, and feel free to drop me a message with any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines or immune responses!