What are antibodies? Here’s how they help human bodies fight COVID-19
New Delhi: It’s been more than a year since the world is battling against the COVID-19 pandemic. While the medical professionals and scientists have been working day and night to come up with better and newer treatments to fight the deadly coronavirus, the majority have expressed their confidence in the method of developing antibodies.
This method is considered crucial in the fight against COVID-19 and one can develop antibodies by either getting vaccinated or after they have been infected by the novel coronavirus.
What are antibodies?
To understand the working of antibodies, think of them as soldiers. As soldiers protect the nation and strengthen its defences against the enemies, antibodies protect our bodies and strengthen our defences against coronavirus.
They are the memory cells that help humans enhance their defences when exposed to the same virus in the future. They are proteins created by our immune system as a defence mechanism after we are infected or vaccinated.
Antibodies and COVID-19
Antibodies help humans fight off the virus and infections caused by it. They are a crucial weapon in our fight against COVID-19. These antibodies are known as immunoglobulins (IgM, IgA and IgG).
A low level of IgM is found in COVID-19 patients who do not display any symptom, while a high level of IgA and IgG antibodies are found in more severe, symptomatic patients. The level and presence of antibodies can be determined via antibody test or serology test.
Many studies have revealed that it can take up to one to three weeks for an individual’s body to develop antibodies to fight any future infections by the same virus.
Antibodies and immunity against coronavirus
A study by Rockefeller University (New York) claims that those who recover from COVID-19 are protected against the virus for at least six months, after testing negative. The findings of the study, which provided evidence that an individual’s immune system remembers the virus, were published in January.
Similarly, Washington University School of Medicine researchers say that antibodies can last for a lifetime. “These cells have been generated as part of the immune response and they live at this stage for a very long period and continue to secrete antibodies,” Dr. Ellebedy, PhD, an associate professor of pathology and immunology, said.
He also added that their research found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after first symptoms.
“Last fall, there were reports that antibodies wane quickly after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, and mainstream media interpreted that to mean that immunity was not long-lived,” said Dr. Ellebedy.
“But that’s a misinterpretation of the data. It’s normal for antibody levels to go down after acute infection, but they don’t go down to zero; they plateau,” he added.
Additionally, research conducted by the scientists at the University of Utah, published in a medical journal named Viruse in May, revealed that within the next decade infections caused by coronavirus could become little more than a nuisance, causing no more than common cold-like coughs and sniffles.
Fred Adler, PhD, professor of mathematics and biological sciences said, “Over the next decade, the severity of COVID-19 may decrease as populations collectively develop immunity.”
COVID-19 vaccines and antibodies
Many studies have shown that people who have previously had COVID-19 have an enhanced antibody response with a single dose of RNA vaccine. In India, most of the population have either been inoculated Covishield and Covaxin shots against coronavirus.
Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revealed that it has been observed that with the first dose of Covishield vaccine good levels of antibodies are produced in the body, whereas in the case of Covaxin, an adequate immune response is triggered only after the second dose.