After months into the pandemic and several trials for the COVID-19 vaccine, a recent study on COVID-19 immunity is taking away the base of every vaccine tested and created. The challenges and difficulty for developers to create a proper COVID-19 vaccine have multiplied with this study. The study was led by a team of researchers from King’s College London who examined the levels of antibodies in more than 90 confirmed virus patients along with how they changed over time.
What they deduced from the study leaves us in a state of a quandary as we are already into a pandemic that isn’t going anywhere.
The blood tests and research concluded that even individuals with only mild COVID-19 symptoms mounted some immune response to the virus. However, “patients who recover from COVID-19 infections may lose their immunity to reinfection within months and industry experts said that it could have a “significant” impact on how governments tackle the pandemic and stop the outbreak.
As per the research results, the antibodies that fight the virus after it enters our body slowly starts to diminish in months following the infection. In some cases, it also showed how after almost three months the antibodies are nowhere to be found which makes it difficult to agree on the fact that one person can get infected more than once
Moreover, the study also shows that although 60% of participants produced a “potent” antibody response while they had COVID-19, only 17% had the same level of potency at the end of the three-month testing period. Antibody levels were found higher and longer-lasting in people with more severe cases of COVID-19.
These antibodies are proteins that a human body creates and mobilizes when a virus or an external danger enters a body. The antibodies find the virus and prevent them from multiplying and infecting the body any further. These antibodies quickly alarm the body of the infection through symptoms but as it fights better the symptoms are witnessed at a low level accordingly.
The adaptive immune system consists of 2 types of white blood cells, T and B, where the T blood cells find and kill the virus when on the other hand, the B blood cells make antibodies (protein) that get attached to the viral particles and block them from getting into our cells to prevent further damage.
Then these cells, T and B are stored in the body as the antibodies that help in eliminating a certain type of infection so that whenever that particular infection/virus enters again, they can kill it again. As these cells are stored in the body to fight off a virus again if it enters, they are also called as the memory cells that work as the main agents of long-term immunity.
In the case of COVID-19, the research provided data that the antibodies, especially the B blood cells (memory cell) gets at its peak at the initial time of the virus but also gets cleared off as the virus gets out of the body giving it a chance to enter it again (perhaps). Nonetheless, such cases, especially influenza, have occurred before and there is no denying that the COVID-19 vaccine will be difficult to create as its impact might fade away with time, but it does not mean that waning of an antibody means waning of the immunity system. The body keeps creating the antibodies to fight off such viruses; the difficult part is to create such a vaccine that can stay for a long period.
For people to be protected and cured, a COVID-19 vaccine is very important to get back a normal life. After getting the information on antibodies getting cleared off from a human body with the receding effect of the virus, the subject-matter experts are concerned as to what actions the government will take to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccines are important not because they help in killing and protecting a human from the virus but also because it helps in blocking the viral transmission. It is quite a difficult possibility to attain herd community with the COVID-19 vaccine if the effect or the vaccine keeps fading away.
For the COVID-19 transmission to be minimized and blocked from spreading rapidly, according to the New York Times,for Covid-19, the population that must be immunized in order for unvaccinated individuals to also be protected ranges between 43 percent and 66 percent.
Mr. Young, who was involved in the research said, “It further emphasizes the need for us to better understand what a protective immune response looks like if we are to develop an effective vaccine.”
However, there is no such data collected as to patients being tested positive for COVID-19 more than once. So, there is still some hope to attain a proper vaccine, but being protective of the virus shall be practiced regularly and with proper measures.
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