Tuesday 14 July 2020

New study on COVID-19 antibodies suggests that immunity fades within weeks, authors say it puts a 'nail in the coffin' of herd immunity

A new study from the U.K. finds that immunity against COVID-19 fades within weeks, putting a "nail in the coffin" of the idea of herd immunity, according to the study's authors.


What are the details?

The research, carried out by scientists at King's College London, determined that a COVID-19 patient's level of antibodies peaked three weeks after symptoms appeared and then in some cases faded away altogether.
Research notes that in some cases, a patient's level of antibodies was entirely "undetectable" after three months.
The study, conducted on antibody response of 90 patients and health care workers at Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, found that 60 percent of those tested had "potent" levels of antibodies during their COVID-19 battles, but just 17 percent had the same level of antibodies three months later.
The study also noted that it appears COVID-19 can reinfect people even if those infected developed antibodies in their initial infection.
According to Business Insider, "The potency of the antibodies fell by as much as 23 times over the three months ... and in some cases were undetectable at the end of that period of time."
One of the study's authors said that the findings put "another nail in the coffin of the dangerous concept of herd immunity."
The study has not been peer-reviewed at the time of this writing.

What else?

In a statement, Professor Jonathan Heeney, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, said that the idea of herd immunity is dangerous — especially when it comes to COVID-19.
"I cannot underscore how important it is that the public understands that getting infected by this virus is not a good thing," he said. "Some of the public, especially the youth, have become somewhat cavalier about getting infected, thinking that they would contribute to herd immunity."
"Not only will they place themselves at risk, and others, by getting infected, and losing immunity, they may even put themselves at greater risk of more severe lung disease if they get infected again in the years to come," he insisted.

Anything else to know?

This study has come out on the heels of a Spanish study, which claimed the same result: Antibody protection against COVID-19 reinfection significantly declines in a good many patients.
The study found that just five percent of people tested maintained antibodies several weeks following infection.
In a statement, the study's authors said, "In light of these findings, any proposed approach to herd immunity through natural infection is not only highly unethical, but also unachievable."

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