Antibody study offers hope for vaccination

Antibodies that people make to fight coronavirus do not fade quickly, but last at least 4 months The good news is the result of a large s...

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  • Antibodies that people make to fight coronavirus do not fade quickly, but last at least 4 months
  • The good news is the result of a large study of 30,000 people on the response of the immune system to the virus
  • A vaccine could make antibody production “may not be short-lived”

Antibodies that people make to fight the new coronavirus do not fade quickly – as some previous studies indicated – but rather last at least four months after diagnosis, which is good news for vaccine development efforts, the scientists found.

The report released Tuesday, based on tests conducted on more than 30,000 people in Iceland, is the most extensive work yet on the immune system’s response to the virus.

If a vaccine can stimulate the production of long-lasting antibodies like an ordinary infection, it raises hope that “immunity to this highly contagious and unpredictable virus may not be short-lived,” wrote independent experts from Harvard University and the National Institutes. Department of Health (NIH) in a commentary published alongside the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One of the great mysteries of the pandemic is whether having the coronavirus helps protect a person from future infections and for how long.

Some earlier, smaller studies suggested that antibodies may disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not produce them.

The new study was conducted by deCODE Genetics, a Reykjavik subsidiary of the American biotech company Amgen, in collaboration with several Icelandic hospitals, universities and health officials. The country has tested 15% of its population since late February, when its first cases of COVID-19 were detected, providing a strong basis for comparisons.

The scientists used two different types of tests for coronavirus: those taken with swabs from the nose or other samples to detect traces of the virus, indicative of an infection, and tests that measure antibodies in the blood, which can show if someone is or was infected.

Blood samples from 30,576 people were tested by various methods, and anyone who tested positive for at least two of the antibody tests was counted as one case. These ranged from the asymptomatic to those who were hospitalized with signs of COVID-19.

In a subgroup that tested positive, subsequent tests found that antibody levels rose for two months after the initial diagnosis of infection, and their reading remained flat and stable for four months.

Previous studies that indicated that the antibodies disappeared rapidly may only have observed the first wave of antibodies generated by the immune system in response to infection; these studies mostly looked at up to 28 days after diagnosis. A second wave of antibodies forms after a month or two from infection, and appears more stable and durable, the researchers said.

The results do not necessarily mean that the populations of all countries will be the same or that each person has the same immune reaction. Other scientists recently documented at least two cases of coronavirus reinfections months after the first infection.

The new study does not establish how many or what type of antibodies confer immunity or protection, that is not yet known.

US will not join global COVID vaccine initiative

The administration of President Donald Trump said Tuesday that it will not collaborate on an international initiative to develop and distribute a vaccine against COVID-19 because it does not want to be restricted by multilateral groups such as the World Health Organization.

The decision comes after the White House announced in July its decision to withdraw the United States from the WHO. Trump says that the WHO needs reform and that it has a strong influence from China.

Some nations have worked directly to ensure the supply of a vaccine, but others are collaborating to ensure success against a disease that has no geographic borders. More than 150 countries are creating the Center for Global Access to Vaccines against COVID-19, or COVAX.

This initiative, linked to the WHO, will allow nations to take advantage of a set of possible vaccines to guarantee that their citizens will have fast coverage with those that are considered effective. The WHO said that even governments that are doing business with individual vaccine manufacturers could benefit from their integration into COVAX, because it could supply them with backup vaccines in the event that those that negotiate bilaterally with manufacturers prove ineffective.

Filed Under: Antibodies

“The United States will remain committed to our international partners to ensure that we defeat this virus, but without being constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. “This president will spare no expense to ensure that any new vaccine meets our Food and Drug Administration standards for safety and efficacy, is fully tested, and saves lives.”

Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of California said the government’s decision was shortsighted and will obstruct the battle to end the pandemic.

“Joining COVAX is a simple measure to guarantee America’s access to a vaccine, no matter who develops it first,” tweeted Bera, who is a physician. “This stance of going it alone puts the United States in danger of not getting a vaccine.”

The government’s decision, coupled with the United States’ withdrawal from the WHO, means the country is abdicating its global leadership in the fight against pandemics, said Tom Hart, director for North America of The ONE Campaign, an activist organization. co-founded by Bono of the rock band U2.

Filed Under: Antibodies

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