New study suggests COVID-19 immunity is 'waning,' researchers say

28 Octobre, 2020, 09:58 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Findings stemmed from finger prick tests researchers said

However, "Testing positive for antibodies does not mean you are immune to Covid-19". Over the study period more than 17,000 subjects tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and 30 percent of those subjects presented with asymptomatic infections.

The latest report includes findings from three rounds of testing carried out over a three-month period.

A study conducted in the United Kingdom found that during the summer, antibodies against the novel coronavirus rapidly declined in the British population, a report by Reuters revealed.

Scientists said the findings showed Britain - and, by implication, all other affected countries - was "miles off" achieving herd immunity, which they said might never be reached without a vaccine.

Riley also notes this research should not be used to imply vaccine-induced immunity would be short-lived.

Researchers noted that immunity to the novel coronavirus "is complex, and may be assisted by T cells, as well as B cells that can stimulate the quick production of antibodies following re-exposure to the virus", the report said.

But scientists involved cautioned that a great deal remains unknown about people's long-term antibody response to the virus. The number of people who've had Covid-19 without knowing it is likely to be many multiples of the known and confirmed cases.

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The findings also suggest the loss of antibodies was slower in 18-24 year-olds compared to those aged 75 and over.

Antibodies do tend to be highly predictive of who is protected, researchers warn.

That raises the prospect of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.

She added: "These data should not be taken to infer that a vaccine would only induce short-term immunity".

Paul Elliott, director of the antibody research program at Imperial College London, suggests waning antibodies do not necessarily mean a person can be reinfected with the virus but, on the other hand, the presence of antibodies does't imply immunity either. After three months, we've already shown a 26pc decline in antibodies. Herd immunity - as Dr. Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Salon last week - "is the indirect protection we get because people around us are immune to the disease".

"We can see the antibodies and we can see them declining and we know antibodies on their own are quite protective", Professor Wendy Barclay said.

The study suggests that people could become reinfected with Covid-19 in the same way they can catch the common cold, which is a related coronavirus, every six to 12 months. Testing positive for antibodies does not mean you are immune to COVID-19. In September, only 44 per 1,000 people were positive. But I'm thinking that 70-something percent is about where we need to be, and it's because I've looked at some of the data.

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