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German Man Received 217 COVID-19 Vaccinations: Is it Safe?

Scientists studied a man who claimed to have received 217 different COVID-19 vaccines and found no signs of damage to the immune system.

A 62-year-old man from Magdeburg, Germany, was the subject of a scientific investigation by University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) researchers after the individual claimed to have been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 217 times over 29 months. The man also claims he intentionally took the vaccines for personal reasons.

In a correspondence published on March 4 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the researchers said they learned about the individual through news coverage of a fraud investigation brought against him by a Magdeburg public prosecutor.

According to a CNN report, the man's immunization history showed that in 2021, he received 16 shots. Then, in January 2022, he was vaccinated almost daily and continued to seek vaccines until officials became suspicious of his activity. Police detained the individual in March of that year when he attempted to get vaccinated at a vaccine clinic. He was then investigated for forgery and issuing unauthorized vaccine cards.

However, the prosecutor did not file criminal charges.

Still, the prosecutor obtained evidence that the man had received 134 vaccines from several manufacturers in a 9-month time span. The remaining 83 shots were self-reported.

Curious about how receiving this many vaccines might impact the immune system, the scientists asked the hypervaccinated individual, who is not named due to German privacy laws, to provide medical information and donate blood and saliva for testing.

The team was particularly interested in uncovering whether repeated exposure to the same vaccine antigen could affect how well the immune system works.

"There is an indication that certain types of immune cells, known as T-cells, then become fatigued, leading to them releasing fewer pro-inflammatory messenger substances," explained study author Privatdozent Dr. Kilian Schober from the Institute of Microbiology, Clinical Microbiology, Immunology, and Hygiene, in a press release.

And this fatigue could make the immune system less effective at responding to the virus.

However, after examining the samples, the team found no evidence that the multitude of vaccines fatigued the man's immune system or caused other adverse health effects.

Moreover, the individual showed no signs of ever having COVID-19.

"Our test case was vaccinated with a total of eight different vaccines, including different available mRNA vaccines," Schober said. "The observation that no noticeable side effects were triggered in spite of this extraordinary hypervaccination indicates that the drugs have a good degree of tolerability."

Are more vaccines better?

The study's authors say that current vaccine recommendations are adequate to help protect against COVID-19, and there is no indication that getting more vaccines would increase immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

Moreover, this study examined one hypervaccinated individual. So, it's unknown if an extreme number of shots could cause COVID-19 vaccine-related adverse health events or immune system damage in others.

In addition, health officials in the United States have now placed COVID-19 in the same category as other viral illnesses like influenza and RSV.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its COVID-19 isolation guidance and reduced isolation time from five days to 24 hours. The new guidance recommends that people stay isolated until they have not had a fever and feel better overall for one day.

These recommendations are similar to guidance for the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

According to the CDC, while SARS-CoV-2 can cause severe illness, the guidelines changed due to less viral activity, high immunity in the general population, and decreased hospitalizations and death rates.

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