- South Africa’s public health agency confirmed that the B.1.351 (501.V2) coronavirus mutation that was detected in mid-December could evade the action of neutralizing antibodies developed after COVID-19.
- According to the agency, half of the blood samples tested against the strain showed that all neutralizing activity was lost. In the other half, the levels of antibodies were reduced, so the risk of reinfection could not be determined.
- The National Institute for Communicable Diseases advises people who had COVID-19 to continue adhering to public health measures to limit the risk of reinfection.
The novel coronavirus has been infecting humans for more than a year old, but it’s still too new for researchers to know everything about it. There’s a massive scientific effort underway to understand the new threat, and we’ve witnessed plenty of breakthroughs so far. Scientists figured out early in the pandemic how to make effective and safe vaccines and delivered finalized products by the end of 2020. Other teams studied transmission and measures to prevent it. Doctors also tested numerous treatments, devising several protocols based on drugs that are effective against the pathogen. All these discoveries helped doctors and public health experts save more lives.
There is one major question that doesn’t have a definitive answer. We have no idea how long COVID-19 immunity lasts, which is a key detail for managing the pandemic. We saw an increasing number of studies in the past few months that showed coronavirus immunity might last longer than expected. Researchers have shown that neutralizing antibodies can patrol the blood for as long as 6 months after the infection, while COVID-specific B and T cells live for at least 8 months. This is all good news for vaccines, which will induce an even more powerful immune response than the virus. But researchers will also share bad news when such data presents itself, and that’s what happened earlier this week. South African health experts confirmed that the coronavirus mutation announced in mid-December could evade neutralizing antibodies that COVID-19 survivors develop.
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COVID-19 antibodies may not protect us from the South African variant originally appeared on BGR.com on Wed, 20 Jan 2021 at 16:20:02 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.