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The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein has been shown to be harmful on its own.

However, a news article quoted an "expert" as saying

The spike protein components of the vaccine are not produced in the same amounts as a normal viral infection (probably a million times less)

On the other hand, I've also read that

Antibody levels induced by mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are much higher than those induced by natural infection

These statements seem contradictory: I'd expect higher antibody levels in response to larger amounts of the spike protein.

So do COVID-19 vaccines produce more spike protein than natural infection?


There is also an argument that the spike proteins produced by the vaccines are localized in the muscle. I think this issue is orthogonal to the question of how much protein is produced.

It should also be noted that the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J (unlike AstraZeneca and Sputnik V) vaccines encode a defective spike protein, which may help with their safety.


Edit: The variation from person to person is a red herring. Here is why:

Let's take a person who has not had Covid or vaccine. Give him the vaccine and count the number of spike protein molecules he produces and call it x. Now, in a different scenario, take the same unvaccinated person and give him Covid. Count the number of spike protein molecules he produces and call it y.

The above claims are, respectively:

y = 1000000 x

and

y < x

We don't even compare x from one person to y from another. We could also understand them as statements about average values. There would still be a contradiction.

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    $\begingroup$ Whose natural infection? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ Well, for example, someone with an asymptomatic case is probably going to have less overall spike protein produced (might as well just think of it as proportional to active viral particles shed) than someone with a severe case. There also seems to be good evidence that like previous SARS/MERS outbreaks a lot of spread comes from "superspreaders" who have higher viral loads and are producing more active virus than the typical case. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause So what. The variation from one person to another is a red herring. $\endgroup$
    – user65835
    Commented May 20, 2021 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ "... spike proteins produced by the vaccines are localized in the muscle.I think this issue is orthogonal to the question of how much protein is produced." - Possible to elaborate? As I just read related question stating that muscle cells seem to not express MHC1 at all, thus not being involved in immune reaction at all. ... and is that what you mean? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 10:31

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