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UK study finds evidence of waning antibody immunity to COVID-19 over time


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UK study finds evidence of waning antibody immunity to COVID-19 over time

By Alistair Smout

 

2020-10-27T031603Z_1_LYNXMPEG9Q08G_RTROPTP_4_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-BRITAIN-ANTIBODY.JPG

FILE PHOTO: A person wearing a protective mask walks near a social distancing sign, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Coventry, Britain October 25, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

 

LONDON (Reuters) - Antibodies against the novel coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, a study found on Tuesday, suggesting protection after infection may not be long lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community.

 

Scientists at Imperial College London have tracked antibody levels in the British population following the first wave of COVID-19 infections in March and April.

 

Their study found that antibody prevalence fell from 6% of the population around the end of June to just 4.4% in September. That raises the prospect of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions in recent weeks.

 

Although immunity to the novel coronavirus is a complex and murky area, 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 researchers said the experience of other coronaviruses suggested immunity might not be enduring.

 

"We can see the antibodies and we can see them declining and we know that antibodies on their own are quite protective," Wendy Barclay, Head of Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London told reporters.

 

"On the balance of evidence I would say, with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level."

 

Those whose COVID-19 was confirmed with a gold standard PCR test had a less pronounced decline in antibodies, compared to people who had been asymptomatic and unaware of their original infection.

 

There was no change in the levels of antibodies seen in healthcare workers, possibly due to repeated exposure to the virus.

 

Imperial's findings were released as a pre-print paper, and have not yet been peer-reviewed.

 

Barclay said that the rapid waning of antibodies from infection did not necessarily have implications for the efficacy of vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials.

 

"A good vaccine may well be better than natural immunity," she said.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-10-27
 
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Not good news for the herd immunity advocates. This gets to sound more and more like the flu, speaking as a layman. Like you get it once, and you get it again, and again, and again. The current strategy reminds me of an old saw - you can protect some of the people for all of the time, you can protect all of the people for some of the time, but you can't protect all of the people for all of the time. Strategy one would be best, strategy 2 is what's happening in reality, and failing; and strategy 3 is what they're going for long term, with vaccines. 

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5 hours ago, snoop1130 said:

UK study finds evidence of waning antibody immunity to COVID-19 over time

As there is waning antibody immunity against every other virus and pathogen "over time."
What's the purpose of the article other then fear-mongering in order to further excite the overly-excitable. 

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14 hours ago, snoop1130 said:

Barclay said that the rapid waning of antibodies from infection did not necessarily have implications for the efficacy of vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials.

 

"A good vaccine may well be better than natural immunity," she said.

How is that so? Isn't a vaccine just a weakened virus injected so the body can envelope immunity? 

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8 minutes ago, LukKrueng said:

How is that so? Isn't a vaccine just a weakened virus injected so the body can envelope immunity? 

There are a lot of different ways a vaccine can work.  We are most familiar with the weakened or dead virus to stimulate our immune system.  Other vaccines work by getting a particular antibody to recognize and fight the virus.   A molecule in the virus can be used to train the immune system to attack anything with that molecule, in this case, Covid-19.   Part of the reason for the extensive testing is to ascertain that it is only attacking the virus and nothing else.

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14 hours ago, snoop1130 said:

 

Scientists at Imperial College London have tracked antibody levels in the British population following the first wave of COVID-19 infections in March and April.

My trust in what people from this institution say has waned significantly during this pandemic.

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9 hours ago, connda said:

As there is waning antibody immunity against every other virus and pathogen "over time."
What's the purpose of the article other then fear-mongering in order to further excite the overly-excitable. 

Well, like all else that boggles the mind, it makes Murdoch et al much richer.

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This isn't really "new" news.  This report is using "may" and "might" to cover their <deleted>.  That is something we commonly do rather than make dogmatic statements.

 

I do not expect many people to know and understand the complexity of immune responses.  I can't claim to be an expert but I have studied immunology.  Many antibodies decrease after a time but we rely on "memory" lymphocytes (both T and B lymphocytes) to rapidly recognise viruses (or bacteria, fungi, etc) that have been dealt with previously.  They can immediately spot the reinfection and trigger a deluge of antibodies to combat the infective agent within a very short time period (minutes, hours Not days or months)/  The antigen is thus neutralised before the person has any symptoms and before there are any virus (in this case) particles to be sampled from nose or throat.

 

It is true that some coronoviruses that cause common colds do not result in future immunity but this is because these viruses (like flu, too) mutate very rapidly and the memory cells cannot easily recognise a reinfection.  SARS coronavirus 2 mutates slightly but not rapidly.  This and other earlier reports about antibody levels to SARS coronavirus 2 use "may" and "might" as they cannot guarantee 100%  life-long immunity because it might be 90%, or even as low as 80%.  Symptomatic reinfections have been relatively few in comparison to the millions of people who have been infected so the expectation is that long-term immunity is likely to be 90 odd% guaranteed.

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