A new study about coronavirus antibodies shows that immunity levels drop undetectably after a few weeks and may vary depending on the infected person’s response.
Coronavirus antibodies’ behavior and effectiveness have been a mystery yet to unfold for many scientists. But recently, a team of researchers based in the Wanzhou District of China has discovered new clues that could open new doors in understanding the COVID-19 disease.
The study, which was published by Nature Medicine last Thursday, June 18, suggests that coronavirus immunity developed both by asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals may not last long. The results, however, had put the viability of a vaccine in question, especially that experts like Dr. Fauci have been sharing their concerns about whether a vaccine could provide long-term immunity or not.
Coronavirus antibodies disappear after a few months
As per the research, the team has tested and compared the antibodies of several infected individuals who are both asymptomatic and symptomatic. Upon comparing the 37 asymptomatic persons’ antibodies to another set of 37 but symptomatic persons, the researchers found out that the former developed weaker antibodies, unlike the latter.
A total of 81% in the asymptotic persons have seen a decline in neutralizing coronavirus antibodies within an eight-week timeframe as well. While those who showed symptoms, only 62% of their immunity levels dropped.
Additionally, 40% of asymptomatic people dropped their antibodies in undetectable levels, higher compared to the 12.9% symptomatic individuals.
Scientists said it might be too early to conclude anything about coronavirus antibodies. The research’s sample size is small as well, and antibody tests may vary per person.
Still, they are hopeful it could tap governments from reconsidering the issuance of the so-called “immunity passport,” which automatically exempts individuals from being a suspected patient.
Fauci: vaccine may not be effective for everyone
On the other hand, the study could also bring to light a few possible implications in the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that a vaccine might not work for everyone.
“If the body is capable of making an immune response to clear the virus in natural infection, that is a pretty good proof of concept to say that you are going to make an immune response in response to a vaccine,” the NAID director said with his interview with Dr. Howard Bauchner.
However, he added that there is “no guarantee to develop an effective vaccine.”
He explained that immune responses vary person-to-person. And a vaccine, in general, works to induce the immune system to release antibodies.
The director had also emphasized the common trait of already-known coronaviruses. The coronavirus that causes common colds, for instance, forces the infected person to develop immunity that ranges from three to six months—sometimes, less than a year.
According to him, if the coronavirus that causes COVID-29 behaves like that, too, then it is “not a lot of durability and protection.”
“It may be completely different with this coronavirus. We don’t know,” Dr. Fauci said.