Large antibody study offers hope for effective COVID-19 vaccine
London, Sep. 2, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Antibody that people make to fight the new coronavirus last for at least four months after diagnosis and do not fade quickly, as some earlier reports suggested, scientists have found.
Tuesday’s report, from tests on more than 30,000 people in Iceland, is the most extensive work yet on the immune system’s response to the virus and is good news for efforts to develop vaccines.
To get a sense of how many people in Iceland had been infected with the new coronavirus and learn more about immune status after recovery, researchers measured antibody levels in more than 30 000 Icelanders.
Based on the results, they estimate that about 1% of the population had been infected.
Of that group, 56% had received a confirmed diagnosis after a gold-standard PCR laboratory test.
Another 14% had not been formally diagnosed but had quarantined after exposure to the virus.
In the remaining 30%, the antibody tests led to discovery of prior infection.
Among the 1 215 people with an infection confirmed by PCR, 91% had antibody levels that rose during the first two months after diagnosis and then plateaued, researchers reported
If a vaccine can spur production of long-lasting antibodies like natural infection does, it gives hope that “immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting,” independent experts from Harvard University and the US National Institutes of Health wrote in a commentary published with the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
One of the big mysteries of the pandemic is whether having had the coronavirus helps protect against future infection and for how long.
Some smaller studies previously suggested that antibodies disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not make many at all.
The new study was done by Reykjavik-based deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of the US biotech company Amgen, with several hospitals, universities and health officials in Iceland.
Reuters | @SABCNews