Much has changed since the first cases of coronavirus infections appeared in the United States earlier this year, with masks and social estrangement now becoming the standard of everyday life (or their Candlestick anyway). But perhaps the most flexible part of a pandemic is trying to understand and predict the lifetime of the virus in the first place.
“This is such a complex disease that even immunologists can’t know everything about it,” said Christine Bishara, an internal medicine doctor and founder of the company. Word in health in New York.
One of the most recent areas of confusion is the COVID-19 antibody – a protein found in the blood that signals if you’ve had an infection in the past and have thus built immunity from the virus. Here, experts explain how the knowledge surrounding antibodies has changed, how precise tests are, and what the latest research behind antibodies tells us what a vaccine is. please in the future.
The antibodies are gone, but it’s completely normal
“When our body comes into contact with the virus, it undergoes a very complex immune response that includes different types of cells including B cells and T cells,” says Bishara. helps regulate B-cell activity, while B-cells produce antibodies that bind to infected cells.
However, these antibodies take time to appear after you become infected with any virus, including the coronavirus.
“It usually takes one to three weeks to see antibodies,” said Steven Schnur, cardiologist and internal medicine doctor at Mount Sinai Medical in Miami, and founder. Imhealthytoday.org, a doctor-designed program to help safely reopen workplaces from a pandemic. “Once they appear, the antibodies tend to fade away after three months.”
But this does not mean that once the antibodies start to disappear, you are no longer immune to the coronavirus. That’s because B cells and T cells that have been engineered in response to the virus have long-term memory and immunity, no matter what level of your antibody drops, Schnur said.
Many people may have been ‘reinfected’ with the coronavirus likely never recovered in the first place
Currently, experts say it is very unlikely that you could get the virus again after you have recovered.
“There are a lot of anecdotal stories, but research has not found any individuals that have actually been recreated,” Schnur said. “When people get sick again after six weeks or two months, it’s actually the same virus and the same original infection that’s been around for more than 10 days.”
The viruses may be inactive for a bit, which can cause them to manifest symptomatically, Bishara adds. This is even supported in the traits behind those T cells and B cells.
“When the body induces an immune response [to a virus]Memory T cells in the event of a future reinfection, so that if they reappear with the virus, your body will recognize it and know how to deal with it, ”says Bishara.
Antibody testing may seem like a good idea in theory, but may not be completely accurate
There are a few flaws in the antibody test currently coming to light. First, there are some antibody tests that are routed to US labs and medical offices without any review from the US Food and Drug Administration. The results of the tests vary, leaving people unable to confidently tell whether they have antibodies or not.
But even the antibody tests that are currently on the market are not as accurate as what the medical community would like.
“Most of the antibody tests are looking at the types of B cells, especially the antibody G (IgG) and M (IgM) immunoglobulins,” says Bishara. “Those are the ones that usually appear after an infection, but they need a while to do so. Part of the problem comes from the moment of antibody testing, because if the body has not yet developed these antibodies, the test can return as false negative.
People without symptoms may also have difficulty getting tested because the body doesn’t emit a major immune response like people with more severe symptoms. A small Chinese study published in the journal Nature Medicine found that 40% of patients had no symptoms or very mild symptoms and a positive viral test did not show any antibodies in the blood.
“It is not correct for someone to think they can walk without the proper precautions because they have antibodies,” Schnur said. “Whether you think you have antibody levels or not, you still need to keep some distance from society and wear a mask.”
However, if you’re still going to have an antibody test, Schnur recommends doing the finger stick test (and double-checking it to see if it doesn’t FDA’s “removed” list). If you get a positive test, do another test at another lab to confirm.
“Only if you have two positive results from two different laboratories that the positive predictive value is over 90 or 95 percent,” he says.
The decreased level of antibodies in the body will not affect the effectiveness of the vaccine
Vaccines generally have a sliding lifespan depending on the type of disease, Bishara said. Diseases such as smallpox and polio have basically been eliminated with a single dose of vaccine, while flu vaccine is required every year. Just because the level of coronavirus antibodies can decrease over time does not mean that the vaccine will not be effective. It all depends on whether the virus can mutate or not.
“When it comes to flu, someone can still get the flu even if they got a flu shot because of the possibility of its change,” Schnur said, “although that person may not have symptoms. like the unvaccinated person at all. ”
Since the coronavirus is still very new, it is not known how much it will repair itself. But now it doesn’t seem like it mutates as quickly or as often as the flu, which means the vaccine will last longer, Schnur said.
“A vaccine may not provide us with lifelong immunity, but it may last for several years,” he said.
The coronavirus is still being learned by experts. The information in this story is known or available as of press time, but the guidance surrounding COVID-19 may change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up-to-date recommendations.