Among the many unknowns about the unique coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is how we may end up being unsusceptible to it. When you get contaminated with viruses, along with other baddies like germs, your body immune system battles back by producing proteins called antibodies. These stick around for the long haul, and your body is prepared to produce more of them if you come into contact with the pathogen again.
It’s how vaccines work: By presenting a dead or weakened variation of an infection to your immune system, you trick it into producing antibodies in response. Then if you enter contact with the real virus, your body will be all set.
Infections differ commonly in regards to the immune response they generate. If you got chicken pox as a kid, you are likely to be immune to reinfection for the rest of your life. With whooping cough, resistance may last for as much as 20 years, and for the H1N1 influenza strain, up to10 With the seasonal coronaviruses that cause the acute rhinitis, immunity fades after a few months, which is why you can pick up new infections every year.
But when it comes to SARS-CoV-2, “since this is such a brand-new infection, we’re unsure how long those antibodies hang around for,” states Dr. Seema Yasmin, director of the Stanford Health Communication Effort.
Our best option might be to compare it to the initial SARS coronavirus, SARS-CoV. In patients infected with this virus, antibody levels peaked between two and 4 months after infection and used security for 2 to 3 years. “I believe the glimmer of hope may be that there’s a lot genetic resemblance in between SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV,” adds Yasmin.
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Speaking of genes, another infection to consider as a contrast is HIV. This virus is so tough to deal with due to the fact that it mutates like mad as it multiplies. The body may develop an antibody, but it’s one that will become less effective as the infection changes. “Some good news on the coronavirus front is this infection does not seem to alter anywhere near as often as HIV mutates,” says Yasmin. “That means it remains much more constant, and it indicates we have far less of a moving target.”
Finding more about how resistance to this new coronavirus works will be crucial to eliminating the pandemic. The more individuals who end up being immune– either from beating an infection or from receiving a vaccine– the more detailed we get to herd resistance, or the point at which most members of the population have antibodies. Then we’ll begin to slow and eventually stop the pandemic.
For more information about how antibodies work, and how they might assist in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, check out our video with Yasmin above.
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