How Spike Proteins and Antibodies Work in Immunity
Spike protein s are a virus's tool to attach itself to your cells and begin attacking. These proteins take a specific shape, which your body uses to create antibodies against the virus. The antibodies are shaped specifically to attach to the spike proteins, much like a lock and key. The antibodies then act as a barrier between your cells and the virus, preventing the virus from attaching. They also act as a flag for your immune system, signaling it to attack the virus.
However, viruses replicate quickly, allowing them to mutate and change structure frequently. This restructuring changes the shape of the spike protein, rendering the original antibodies less effective against the virus. Since the key no longer fits the lock, your body must create a new antibody to protect you against the new strain of the virus.
How Vaccines Work
In a typical vaccine, such as for chickenpox, scientists take the virus and blend it, delivering patients a small sample of the virus through a shot. When you get a chickenpox vaccination, you're getting a multitude of different particles of that virus. The critical part is that for a strong immune system, you need the whole global picture of that virus in the vaccination, so you have a better immune system.
Why the COVID-19 Vaccine Is Different
Unlike a typical vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine delivers only a piece of the spike protein to your body. If the entirety of the COVID-19 virus represents a webpage, the highlighted section is the only piece being delivered through the COVID-19 vaccine. This is problematic because your body can only create an antibody for that specific part of the virus, but it has no information about the entire makeup of the virus. If the virus mutates, your body has no idea how to deal with the new variant.