Editor’s Choice for Vaccine Response Paper

Dr. Wong in his office
Dr. David Wong
March 31, 2022

A paper published in the January 17, 2022 online edition of the Journal of Immunology focuses on saliva COVID-19 antibody testing. The paper, "The Kinetics of COVID-19 Vaccine Response in a Community-Vaccinated Population," was selected as an Editor’s Choice. Authors include Michael K. Tu, Samantha H. Chiang, Richard A. Bender, David T. W. Wong and Charles M. Strom. UCLA's Dr. Wong is a professor and Associate Dean for Research and Director of the UCLA Center for Oral/Head & Neck Oncology Research (COOR).

In the kinetic study, the authors analyzed 42 vaccinated patients (27 Moderna, 15 Pfizer) who provided twice-weekly samples for a period of several weeks. In addition to the 42 volunteers participating in the kinetic study, there were another 53 individuals who submitted single samples. The study demonstrates that although all individuals vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccine develop a robust anti-SARS-CoV-2 S1 IgG Ab response, the response wanes over time.

In considering additional vaccinations, the authors note, "The ability to monitor vaccine response noninvasively can be an important way to identify individuals who may require additional injections without straining health care resources." And therefore, "the ability to noninvasively and cost-efficiently quantify COVID-19 Ab levels could be an important tool in investigating the relationship between circulating Abs and immunity."

Many people are now wondering if a fourth vaccination will be needed. For now, the paper details that future kinetic studies are necessary to determine if SARS-CoV-2 IgG Ab levels will remain stable after a third vaccination. The data presented in this study, regarding the salivary monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 S1 IgG, are congruent with recommendations given by the CDC and established literature regarding SARS-CoV-2 Abs in vaccinated populations.

First Clinically Approved Saliva COVID-19 Antibody Assay
An NIH-supported COVID-19 antibody assay has been launched commercially. During the pandemic, Dr. Samantha Chiang (DDS ’16, PhD ’22) engaged with the lab in the essential research to develop antibody testing in saliva. Chiang’s research demonstrated that host immunity (antibodies) in circulation have immuno-equivalence in saliva. The saliva COVID-19 antibody test was CLIA-qualified as a Laboratory Development Test (LDT) and was launched this year by Apostle Diagnostics in San Francisco.