Even in a group of entirely healthy young people, only 60% of those infected with coronavirus developed antibodies
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt performs on June 3, 2020 in the port of Apra, Guam, a replica of the flag of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry "Don't Give Up the Ship".
U.S. Navy / MCS 3rd Class Zachary Wheeler
A severe outbreak of the coronavirus hit the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Navy aircraft carrier based in the Pacific, in late March and April.
Almost a quarter of the airline's 4,800 crew members were infected.
A new study shows that every fifth infected sailor showed no symptoms and only 60% of the infected coronavirus antibodies developed.
The researchers also found that seafarers wearing face masks, avoiding common areas and practicing social distancing were less likely to be infected.
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The seafarers on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt are young and healthy and have few underlying illnesses.
This did not prevent the corona virus from causing chaos on board the naval ship and infecting almost a quarter of the 4,800-strong crew at the end of March and April. The severe outbreak forced the naval ship to moor in Guam for two months while each crew member was tested and 80% of the ship was cleaned and disinfected.
Related topics: How data can help track and stop the spread of COVID-19
New research released on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now shows what conditions on board the narrow carrier have facilitated this spread.
The study found that one in five infected sailors had no symptoms and only 60% of a group of infected crew members developed antibodies that could neutralize the virus.
Reyna Montue, Quartermaster of the U.S. Navy, uses a telephone with sound in the navigation bridge of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt when he leaves Apra on June 4, 2020.
U.S. Navy / MCS 3rd Class Zachary Wheeler
"This finding may give us early insight into actual immune protection against [the coronavirus] in young adults who have this intense virus exposure on board the ship," Daniel Payne, CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study, told Stars and Stripes.
Antibodies are "a promising indicator of at least short-term immunity"
The USS Theodore Roosevelt reported its first COVID-19 cases on March 24 and moored in Guam a few days later, allowing over 80% of the crew to be evacuated ashore and isolated in hotels to prevent further spread
Tests showed that 1,273 of the almost 4,800 crew members of the aircraft carrier were infected, most of whom had mild or no symptoms (however, several seafarers were hospitalized and one died).
Only 382 of these 1,273 infected seafarers volunteered to participate in the CDC study.
Between April 20 and 24, these 382 seafarers filled out questionnaires about their habits on board the ship and provided samples for antibody testing. Three quarters of this cohort were male crew members, about 60% were non-Spanish and their average age was 30 years.
Antibody tests showed that almost 60% of these 382 study participants had developed neutralizing antibodies, proteins that help our body to deactivate the invading virus. In several infected seafarers, these antibodies were still detectable more than 40 days after the onset of symptoms. The study's authors said this was "a promising indicator of at least short-term immunity".
Sailors watch an F / A-18F Super Hornet approach the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Philippine Sea on June 8, 2020.
U.S. Navy / MCS Seaman Dylan Lavin
The value of this study, according to Payne, is that it is the first to study how the virus spreads among a group of young, healthy adults - a cohort with a far lower risk of developing severe coronavirus cases than older people with pre-existing ones Health problems.
The carrier's antibody results contradict scientific evidence suggesting that almost everyone who had COVID-19, regardless of age, gender, or severity of the disease, should develop antibodies.
A May study found that 20 coronavirus patients, including two people with severe cases requiring hospitalization, developed antibodies to fight the virus. The average age of these patients was 44 years.
It is currently unclear why the remaining 40% of healthy young participants on board the Navy carrier did not have these neutralizing proteins.
Approximately one in five infected sailors was asymptomatic
Payne and his colleagues found that 18.5% of the 382 study participants, roughly one in five, showed no symptoms despite being infected. Among the 284 symptomatic seafarers, odor and taste loss were the most common symptoms, followed by fever and chills.
The risk of infection was twice as high for crew members who shared a berth with someone who tested positive.
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) will be anchored on May 15, 2020 at the pier of the Guam Naval Base. Theodore Roosevelt's COVID-negative crew returned from quarantine on April 29 and is preparing to return to sea to continue their intended deployment to the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Conner D. Blake
The authors of the CDC study also found that seafarers who reported wearing face masks were less likely to be infected, as well as those who avoided common areas and practiced social distancing.
With the USS Theodore Roosevelt back in service in the Pacific, these results could enable additional health and safety measures to be taken on board.
Naval officials are now working on "tuning our public health practices to the unique characteristics of this enemy, whose secret weapon, as you know, is the ability to be transmitted by a person before they know they are infected," counter-administrator Bruce Gillingham said the U.S. Navy general surgeon at a press conference on Tuesday.
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