Lifespan Of Coronavirus Antibodies. Do We Really Get Just 3 Months?:
We’ve recently gotten two more pieces of bad news.
One was that coronavirus can survive on surfaces a lot longer than we used to think, especially in cold weather.
The second just came along a short while ago in a British study stating what many doctors feared.
For some reason contrary to other diseases, antibodies to coronavirus don’t stick around longer than three months.
Pretty spooky. But a team at Mount Sinai just found some more encouraging results…
The Short Answer:
- COVID-19 can survive on surfaces much longer than we thought.
- But it also seems the antibodies that create immunity do not survive very long.
- That is according to studies by IC-London and UCLA.
- So are we stuck the way we are now forever? Just with maybe a yearly-vaccine eventually?
- Immunity to diseases is usually permanent, so why does COVID’s seem to last only 3 months?
- Mount Sinai’s team looked at subjects for longer periods with much different tools.
- This toolset called ELISA is targeted at only 1 protein on the virus.
- They tested 120+ subjects for different antibodies targeted at that protein.
- Those results showed people likely retain immunity past the 5 month mark.
- It turns out that different type & source of antibodies stay around for different durations.
- The specific antibodies they found look like they originate from bone-marrow, where all immunity to viruses lives.
- So long-term immunity to coronavirus seems very possible, now that !SCIENCE! knows exactly where to look.
Read on to find out the details…
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Let’s face it, it’s hard enough not having a vaccine yet in a world that’s been massively changed.
Europe is even starting to go back into some lockdowns and even Sweden is giving up on their “Herd Immunity” experiment for now.
But the reports that coronavirus antibodies only last for 3 months was a crushing blow.
So with that,
1) The change in our world might seem more permanent.
2) It seems we’re just left with the old CDC recs of: Masks, Social Distancing, and Cleaning Hands & Surfaces.
3) We might be looking at a future of endless, or at-least Yearly vaccine treatments.
But don’t lose hope too soon!
Because as far as we know it, the scenario implied by the British & UCLA teams reporting the 3 month window,
It seemed a little bit off.
Because that’s not usually how immunity to a virus you’ve beaten usually works.
-Which is the whole premise of that thing Dr. Edward Jenner called a “vaccine” anyway.
Btw, he’s the dude who cured Smallpox; one of the most vicious bugs to ever live on Earth.
So then, even though you get a Flu shot every year to more-effectively protect against the new strain,
What is going on with those kooky 3-month numbers out of IC-London & UCLA?
A team at Mount Sinai probably had the same reaction, and set-out to find the answer.
Sorry for the punch-line type follow-up, but the first thing they did was to follow the subjects for longer than three months!
::insert Sheldon Cooper BAZINGA! here. ok, fine!::
The second thing they did was to borrow the 1918 Spanish Flu infection graph to guide their thinking.
Because the genius ray-of-light they found was: Waves.
It looks like the British team had made one crucial mistake.
They only looked at one type of biological actor.
Mount Sinai’s team looked for several, and that’s where they found their pot of gold!
Let’s file this in the: “Now that it’s explained logically it seems obvious” department.
Because in the multiple types of antibodies MS found,
It was only the first type that created a huge wave, a massive counter-reaction to the disease to take it out.
This type of action is generally written down to an immune-system actor called IG-g that comes from plasmablasts.
But as the team waited longer, got a core group of subjects who would go through testing for the long haul,
And kept going, a set of different biological actors became apparent over time.
The key innovation Mount Sinai used in this testing is like an electron-microsocope for viruses, called ELISA.
It’s a unique, very special tool, that looks at only 1 single part of the coronavirus.
And that’s where they found the target of all those other antibodies; in the specifics.
So the great news is that after finding these very specific types of antibodies around at the FREAKING FIVE-MONTH MARK!,
The team noticed something else, because they needed that specific test it means the antibodies were also very-specific themselves.
You see, when you have a viral infection, it’s antibodies like IG-g that come in like a squadron of attack-planes and blast them to hell.
But just like light-aircraft, they also have a tendency to leave quickly, too.
So then the question gets weird when we think about the very specific ones that seemed to stick around past 148 days according to Ania Wajnberg and her colleagues.
… If they weren’t the general-purpose IG-g from plasmablasts, then where the hell were they coming from?
Get ready to smile, guys.
Not only is the Mount Sinai team going to keep testing the same 120+ people for at-least a year,
But right now, it’s looking like the only place such a targeted & unique type of antibody could come from,
Is the bone-marrow.
And that, friends, is where your long-term immunity to viruses comes from.
So it’s looking a lot like the previous horror-story findings of potential “Three-Month Disappearing Immunity”,
Might not be the whole story after-all.
And that even though there are maybe 1 or 2 re-infection cases,
Long-term immunity to coronavirus might actually be a real possibility!
And that, plus the hope for both treatments and vaccine for COVID is a very hopeful story to tell, instead of a nightmare.
• Sources: Mount Sinai | IC London
• Source Studies:
• ScienceMag – Robust neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 infection persist for months
• NEJM – Rapid Decay of Anti–SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Persons with Mild Covid-19
• Imperial AC – Declining prevalence of antibody positivity to SARS-CoV-2: a community study of 365,000 adults