World News

Coronavirus antibodies 'only last three months' – and people who were hit at peak may already be at risk again

COVID-19 antibodies reduce up to 30 per cent every month, meaning people who were hit at the peak of the pandemic could be vulnerable to it again, experts have warned.

Antibodies could protect against reinfection and a senior adviser has now cautioned that people who caught the virus in March may have lost any protection they had.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford said future vaccines may only work for a couple of months.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine he said antibodies can deplete up to 30 per cent each month.

Talking on the issues of testing he said there are really two big strands of testing.

“One is the detection of the virus or the viral antigens, or viral RNA which is detected by PCR reactions, that’s how you define if someone is infected.

“To detect whether people have been infected they mount an antibody response.”

He said the durability of the antibodies is not great and “fades away very quickly”.

“Some people have said at a rate of 20 to 30 per cent a month. So six months on people will have started to lose their antibodies.”

Prof Bell also warned that the UK was heading for a “bumpy winter” and said that vaccines “won’t solve the problem”.

He suggested that people could receive a new dose of the coronavirus vaccine each year in conjunction with the annual flu jab.

As well as this he said it was important to develop a good home test that would be less invasive for people in schools and universities in order to stop the spread.

He cautioned that vaccines will not be produced in time for a second wave.

"And I'm not sure the new home testing is going to get there in time either, but it perhaps will take the edge off it. But then I suspect, by Christmas or early in the new year, there may be more than one option for vaccines.

"My suspicion is the vaccines will work a bit – they won't sterilise people, but they'll take the edge off the disease and they'll definitely be worth using in a population."

He said a new pregnancy-style coronavirus home test kit which costs just £5 and produces results in minutes could be approved in weeks.

 

 

“The real step forward will be is you get pregnancy style lateral flow tests for antigen that work with a reasonable sensitivity and specificity. 

“We have just started this week validating those at Porton Down. We've looked at a couple already and a couple more are going through today.”

But he added that some of the tests being examined were “terrible” at detecting the virus due to their low accuracy rate.

Sir John continued: "As you won't be surprised, some of these are terrible tests so you'd never use them.

“But some look pretty interesting. And at £5 pounds a pop, with high sensitivity, say 90 per cent, and high specificity, which may be in high 90s, they could really work.”

The Health Secretary this week announced that Brits would receive home tests to weed out super spreaders.

Matt Hancock has said bringing in screening was a "huge" priority as the Government aims to re-open the economy and slash quarantine times.

He said some of the new tech being evaluated can give results in as little as ten minutes.

Ministers are now working with dozens of firms to introduce population-wide testing.

Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This is a really, really important drive that we have across Government to bring in mass testing, population-wide testing.

"The new technologies for testing that are coming on stream now are incredibly important.

"At the moment you have to send off a test to a laboratory and get it back and all the logistics of that takes time, it's also quite expensive.

"We're testing some of these right now in Porton Down, in our scientific labs, and the mass testing, population testing, where we make it the norm that people get tested regularly, allowing us therefore to allow some of the freedoms back, is a huge project in Government right now with enormous support."

Source: Read Full Article