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Early research shows those who had COVID-19 may only need 1 dose of vaccine

With limited supply, that means the extra doses could be saved for others who need it most.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are major developments about the COVID 19 vaccine that could impact people who’ve had prior infection.

Preliminary results from some studies suggest people who’ve had COVID 19 in the past may only need one dose instead of two. With limited supply, that means the extra doses could be saved for others who need it most.

However, the research is still in its early stages, and people with past infection should still get two doses, based on current health guidelines.

WCNC Charlotte went to get answers from several sources on the topic: the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, which is studying the issue, Dr. Anthony Fauci who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. David Priest who is an infectious disease specialist at Novant Health.

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Louise Bancroft said she lost her sense of smell when she got COVID-19 over the summer.

“I drove past a dead skunk and everybody else in the car exclaimed that they smelled it very strongly and it was a total blank for me,” Bancroft said. 

While Bancroft said she had a mild case, she worries the next time could be worse.

“I am planning to get a vaccine when it’s available to me,” Bancroft said. 

Based on current health guidelines, people like Bancroft who’ve had past infection should get two doses like everyone else.

“The CDC also gives the option of waiting 90 days believing that you have some degree of immunity after having COVID,” Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist at Novant Health, said. 

Now, preliminary results from some studies indicate those who’ve had past infection may only need one dose instead of two.  A research team from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York found one-shot for people who’ve had COVID-19 could produce an equal or better immune response than two shots for people who haven’t had a past infection. 

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The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, summarized the study here.

“If you’ve been infected and then you get a single dose, the boost that you get with that single dose is really enormous,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. 

“We would certainly love to free up an extra dose,” Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist at Novant Health, said. 

However, Priest said the challenge is not everyone who gets COVID-19 has the same level of immune response.

“I can’t just tell by looking at you whether your previous case was enough to protect you or not, so that makes it a little trickier,” Priest said. 

“It would be wonderful if I only have to take one dose and there’s more doses available for people who need it,” Bancroft said. 

Priest said they’re recommending people who’ve had COVID 19 still get two doses, as providers wait for further guidance on the issue.

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan. 

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