Since its advent in December 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused 581,583 deaths, affecting over 13,473,111 people. All around the globe, scientists and health experts are ardently working towards providing a deeper understanding of the nature of the novel coronavirus, informing the public of its development, hence creating further awareness on the on-going issue.
A study by the researchers from King's College London has suggested that an individual's immunity to Covid-19 (Covid-19 immunity) might be lost in months. The researchers made this claim after finding out that the antibody levels of Covid-19 patients drop, three months after the infection .
Antibody Level Drops In COVID-19 Patients, Immune System May 'Forget' The Virus
An antibody is a large protein produced mainly by plasma cells that are used by the immune system to neutralise disease-causing pathogens . According to studies, SARS-CoV-2 particles have proteins called spikes, which latch on to the human cells and attacks the body, and potent antibodies that recognise and bind to the spike protein can help block the virus from infecting human cells .
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Previous studies have pointed out that potent antibodies have been found in people recovered from Covid-19 . Although most recovered people had low levels of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in their blood, potent infection-blocking antibodies were identified, which was said to help with providing guidance for developing vaccines and antibodies as treatments for Covid-19 .
Usually, when a person gets infected by any virus, the body generates antibodies against the pathogen. This allows the immune system to document the pathogen and the next time the person is exposed to the same pathogen, the immune system will quickly eliminate it .
Since Covid-19 is a new disease, experts are not fully aware of how the human immune system reacts to it or if those who already got the infection once are safe from being re-infected.
However, now with the new study stating that the antibodies in a recovered person can drop within months, it raises a lot of questions about the efficiency of vaccines and the possible control and management of the coronavirus pandemic.
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The study analysed samples from 90 healthcare workers, a group highly exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and found out that the level of antibodies peaked three weeks post-infection and slowly began to vanish.
Further, while 60 per cent of the patients showed good antibody response during peak infection, only 17 per cent amongst them continued to have the same antibody levels three months later. With the intention of understanding the possibility of herd immunity driven by a vaccine push, the study went on to state that, "People are producing a reasonable antibody response to the virus, but it's waning over a short period of time and depending on how high your peak is, that determines how long the antibodies are staying around" .
As vaccines work on the development of immune response against a pathogen, that is, it improves your immune system to fight off the pathogen, the reduction in the antibody levels have raised doubts on whether vaccines can help in preventing the prevalence of the coronavirus infection .
Previous Studies Had Shown Antibody Levels Dropping
A previous study of the coronavirus had shown that antibodies against the virus do not last for more than three months, which is in line with the assertions of the current study .
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The study asserted that though it is not known whether T-cells (plays a central role in the immune response) can protect against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection, they are effective against reinfection by MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus, which is also a type of coronavirus and has similarities to the coronavirus infection .
On A Final Note…
However, the study is not yet peer-reviewed. As per the findings, there is no data on how much of an antibody level we need to be safe from reinfection with COVID-19 virus. Further research is needed to determine the level of antibodies required for protection from infection. The researchers stated, "We also need to know more about the titre of antibody that is required to prevent re-infection in humans."
Stay Home. Stay Safe.