COVID-19 antibodies Present in Patients after 4 months of recovery: StudySeptember 02, 2020 19:05
(Image source from: economictimes.com/)
The new finding may have implications for re-infection risks and vaccine durability according to Kari Stefansson, Chief Executive of deCode genetics which conducted the study.
To get a sense of how many people have been affected to date with the novel coronavirus and also to learn more about the immune system of such patients, researchers of Iceland have measured antibody levels in more than 30,000 Icelanders.
In previous studies, antibodies level dropped sharply within a few months after getting infected with COVID-19, raising questions about the duration of the immunity that the virus can provide.
This new finding comes as good news as it promises vaccination durability and fewer re-infection risks.
The research was conducted by Kari Stefansson, Chief Executive of deCode Genetics, the company which initiated the research process.
Researchers have studied the blood samples of more than 30,000 Icelanders and based on the results they estimate that about 1 percent of the population of Iceland has been affected by coronavirus till date.
Of that group, about 56 percent had received a confirmed diagnosis after the gold standard RT-PCR test.
Another 14 percent had not been formally diagnosed but have been under quarantine after their exposure to the virus. In the remaining 30 percent, the antibody tests led to the discovery of prior infection.
The RT-PCR test which was carried out to the 30,000 people of Iceland, 1215 people were detected to be positive for the virus.
91 percent of the people tested had antibody levels that rose during the first two months after the diagnosis of the infection and then came down.
The results of this research by the deCode Genetics has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study focussed on a homogenous population from the single country in order to make sure that the findings may not be similar to the other countries.
That part of the world with a diverse population may not expect the same results. Separate research has to be conducted in every country to determine the immune response of the patients.
Stefansson said that the study they carried shows how meticulous antibody tests can determine the true prevalence of the infection.
An editorial that accompanied the study cautioned that it is unclear if the recovered patients’ antibodies can protect them from the chance of infecting themselves with the coronavirus again.
However, it suggested that the antibody tests can be a cost effective alternative to infection testing alone and may work better in surveying populations as the countries now looking to safely reopen their economies.
Moreover, recently, Hong Kong has reported its first case of reinfection which is the first in the world.
However, it is very unlikely to pre-determine the behavior of the virus as very little is known as of now.
By Gayatri Yellayi