Coronavirus: 8.5% of patients do not produce antibodies against the infection
A bartender in Birmingham serves a drink in a mask. (Getty Images)
A new study suggests that up to 8.5% of people who overcome the coronavirus do not develop antibodies to it.
Scientists at St. George's University of London searched for the immune-fighting proteins in 177 people in the weeks after fighting the infection.
Antibodies prevent a virus from re-infecting an individual, but they decrease over time.
Given the number of confirmed coronavirus cases of nearly 8 million, an expert could suggest that nearly 800,000 could be re-infected, nullifying hopes of herd immunity.
"Calming" those who produced antibodies continued two months later.
However, the same expert stressed that we have to understand the immune response a few years later.
Early research suggests that in four out of five cases, coronavirus is mild but can trigger a respiratory disease called COVID-19.
Shoppers wear masks in Norwich. (Getty Images)
Coronavirus: Eight out of 100 “don't produce antibodies”
When the immune system detects an infection, it triggers a response that involves the release of antibodies.
Once the infection has been overcome, small amounts of memory antibodies circulate in the bloodstream.
When the same virus appears again, the immune system increases the production of these antibodies and prevents the infection from spreading.
Officials are cautiously optimistic that immunity to the coronavirus will persist, at least in the short or medium term. In addition, things get messed up.
This is one reason why the proposal for "immunity passports" that allow people to return to their normal routine has been more or less rejected.
After examining 177 confirmed coronavirus patients, the St. George scientists found that between 2% and 8.5% weeks later, no antibodies to the infection were produced.
Perhaps surprisingly, higher antibody numbers were associated with not being white. This is despite statistics that show that people with a black, Asian or ethnic minority are more likely to develop complications with the coronavirus.
The results have been provisionally published and have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. This is the case when experts who are not involved in research weigh up their strengths and weaknesses.
"Our real concern is to see what happens after a year or two."
Professor Danny Altmann of Imperial College London said of the study: “It is a useful addition to the plethora of such antibody studies that come from cohorts around the world.
"We learn from this that around 90% of the people trigger an antibody reaction that can be recognized for up to two months and is not significantly influenced by the age, gender or respiratory symptoms of the people examined."
“The flip side of your data is what happens to the 10% or so who don't produce antibodies.
"Extrapolating to global numbers means that of the estimated 8 million cases worldwide, approximately 800,000 do not have protective antibodies."
However, it is unclear whether non-antibody aspects of the immune response come into play.
"Antibodies are just one of the many different types of immune responses that an individual can trigger to clear an infection," said Professor Eleanor Riley of the University of Edinburgh.
The results also showed that those who produced antibodies continued to do so during the two-month follow-up.
Professor Altmann called this "reassuring," but added: "It would be remarkable if an immune response didn't last that long.
"Our real concern is to see what happens after a year or two, what we have to wait for," he said.
Professor Riley emphasized that it was "not uncommon for a small proportion of people to have undetectable antibody levels after an acute infection".
"This data looks reassuringly normal," she added.
What is the corona virus?
The corona virus is one of seven strains of a virus class that are known to infect humans.
Others cause everything from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed 774 people at the outbreak of 2002/03.
Since the coronavirus outbreak was identified in late 2019, more than 7.9 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As is known, over 3.7 million of these cases have recovered.
Worldwide, the death toll has exceeded 433,900.
The corona virus spreads mainly face to face through infected droplets that are expelled by coughing or sneezing.
There is also evidence that it is transmitted in feces and can survive on surfaces.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and loss of taste or smell.
COVID-19 has no "fixed" treatment, since most patients naturally resist this.
Those who need to be hospitalized are given “supportive care” such as ventilation while their immune system is working.
Officials are asking people to ward off infection by washing their hands regularly and maintaining social distance.
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