Study sheds new light on virus antibodies

Henrietta Strickland
October 28, 2020

According to a recent study carried out by researchers at the Imperial College London, the proportion of people in Britain with antibodies that protect against COVID-19 declined over the summer, adding to evidence that natural immunity can wane in a matter of months.

The evidence follows several studies published earlier this year from China, the United Kingdom and the USA, which found that people's antibody levels declined sometimes as early as two months after infection.

"One approach is to identify and treat vitamin D deficiency, especially in high-risk individuals such as the elderly, patients with comorbidities, and nursing home residents, who are the main target population for the COVID-19", says study co-author José L. Hernández from the University of Cantabria in a media release.

The study, conducted by Imperial College London and published Tuesday, involved tests on more than 365,000 British people between June 20 and September 28.

The finger pricks tested for coronavirus antibodies, and results revealed a drop from almost 6% to 4.4% over a three-month span, which researchers said translates to a 26.5% decline.

The findings of the study suggested that the loss of antibodies was slower in 18-24-year-olds compared to those aged 75 and over. 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".

"This very large study has shown that the proportion of people with detectable antibodies is falling over time", said Professor Helen Ward, one of the lead authors of the study report.

A british study published on Tuesday, October 27, shows that the immunity acquired by people cured of Covid-19 "decreases quite quickly", especially in asymptomatic patients.

However, the research found the number of health care workers testing positive for antibodies did not change over time, potentially reflecting repeated, or higher initial, exposure to the virus.

However, they said the findings suggested a significant rapid decline in immunity - raising the prospect that those infected could suffer repeatedly from infections in further waves.

Some scientists believe that the role played by T cells - which are white blood cells that help the immune system kill viruses - could be more important in fighting the virus. Those people who have been hoping and relying on the concept of herd immunity, their concerns are going to be certainly heightened after this study.

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

"Regardless of the result of an antibody test, everyone must continue to comply with government guidelines including social distancing, self-isolating and getting a test if you have symptoms and always remember Hands, Face, Space".

They scanned more than 7,000 viruses and over 4,000 hosts across the Earth's ecosystems and uncovered six million instances of viral mimicry. So it isn't unusual to see the prevalence of antibodies drop in the community.

This article has been republished from the following materials.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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