IgG4 Antibodies Induced by Repeated Vaccination May Generate Immune Tolerance to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein.
Less than a year after the global emergence of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a novel vaccine platform based on mRNA technology was introduced to the market. Globally, around 13.38 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses of diverse platforms have been administered. To date, 72.3% of the total population has been injected at least once with a COVID-19 vaccine. As the immunity provided by these vaccines rapidly wanes, their ability to prevent hospitalization and severe disease in individuals with comorbidities has recently been questioned, and increasing evidence has shown that, as with many other vaccines, they do not produce sterilizing immunity, allowing people to suffer frequent re-infections. Additionally, recent investigations have found abnormally high levels of IgG4 in people who were administered two or more injections of the mRNA vaccines. HIV, Malaria, and Pertussis vaccines have also been reported to induce higher-than-normal IgG4 synthesis. Overall, there are three critical factors determining the class switch to IgG4 antibodies: excessive antigen concentration, repeated vaccination, and the type of vaccine used. It has been suggested that an increase in IgG4 levels could have a protecting role by preventing immune over-activation, similar to that occurring during successful allergen-specific immunotherapy by inhibiting IgE-induced effects. However, emerging evidence suggests that the reported increase in IgG4 levels detected after repeated vaccination with the mRNA vaccines may not be a protective mechanism; rather, it constitutes an immune tolerance mechanism to the spike protein that could promote unopposed SARS-CoV2 infection and replication by suppressing natural antiviral responses. Increased IgG4 synthesis due to repeated mRNA vaccination with high antigen concentrations may also cause autoimmune diseases, and promote cancer growth and autoimmune myocarditis in susceptible individuals.