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Only 4% of England now have antibodies, government studies show


Far fewer Brits have coronavirus antibodies than they did at the height of the first wave, according to a government-run study.

There is cause for concern that protection from the disease is short-lived and that people may be re-infected only a few months after initial recovery.

The REACT-2 project, which does tens of thousands of DIY blood tests to find out how much of the population was infected, found that 4.4 percent of people in England had Covid-19 antibodies to the in September Proteins in the blood have been trained to fight the disease.

For comparison: In the first round of the study in June, 6 percent tested positive for antibodies, a decrease of 26 percent in three months.

Worryingly, the biggest drop has been seen in those over 65, who are most susceptible to getting sick or dying from the disease.

Scientists from Imperial College London who led the research said the natural protection against Covid-19 lasts between six and twelve months. They believe that after this time, most people will be prone to re-infection.

Antibodies, however, are only one of several key components involved in immunity. For example, the study did not look at T cells, types of white blood cells found in Covid-19 survivors that also play an important role in preventing re-infection.

Scientists insisted that the truth about immunity is still hazy, saying it is possible that the body may continue to produce antibodies quickly in the future even if someone no longer tests positive for them. They said this may not protect them completely but lead to a milder illness.

Experts believe the coronavirus kills about 0.5 percent of all infected people, the equivalent of one death per 200 patients. But the disease poses a much greater threat to the elderly than to those under 40.

Using this Infectious Mortality Rate (IFR) to gauge the true extent of the UK's Covid-19 crisis would suggest that the country actually had 8 million cases – that's 14.3 percent of the population.

The REACT-2 project found that 4.4 percent of people in England had Covid-19 antibodies in September. For comparison, in the first round of the study in June, 6 percent tested positive for antibodies, and the second study found 4.8 percent of the proteins

The largest decline was seen in those over 65, who are most susceptible to getting sick or dying from the disease. Antibodies were most common among younger people, who were actively encouraged to stimulate the economy in the months after the lockdown was lifted

The largest decline was seen in those over 65, who are most susceptible to getting sick or dying from the disease. Antibodies were most common among younger people, who were actively encouraged to stimulate the economy in the months after the lockdown was lifted

The prevalence remained highest in London at 9.5 percent, compared with 1.6 percent in the south-west of England

The prevalence remained highest in London at 9.5 percent, compared with 1.6 percent in the south-west of England

When someone becomes infected with coronavirus, their immune system produces antibodies that store memories of how to fight a particular disease.

Coming in a variety of forms, they can attack viruses and self-destruct, or force the body to produce other types of immune cells and white blood cells to do the dirty work for them.

Once antibodies are made, the body usually retains a memory of how they are made and which ones are needed to fight off various viruses.

DISCOVERED: THE TRUTH ABOUT COVID IMMUNITY, ANTIBODIES AND T-CELLS

Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system that store memories of how a particular virus can be fought.

Coming in a variety of forms, they can attack viruses and self-destruct, or force the body to produce other types of immune cells and white blood cells to do the dirty work for them.

They can only be created when the body is exposed to the virus, by actually getting infected, or through a vaccine or other type of specialized immunotherapy.

Once antibodies are made – the body essentially molds them around a virus when it encounters one in the blood – the body usually keeps a memory of how they are made and which ones go with which virus.

Generally, antibodies create immunity to a virus because they are reinstated when it enters the body a second time, killing the beetle faster than it can establish itself and cause disease.

Scientists still aren't sure about the truth about immunity, as Covid-19 has only been around since January – meaning its long-term effects are still unclear.

So far, cases of people being infected more than once have been neither numerous nor convincing.

With some diseases, like chickenpox, when they get back into the body, the body has precise memories of how to destroy them and can fight them off before symptoms start. So far, however, it is unclear how long Covid 19 patients are protected.

There are initial indications that antibodies disappear as early as eight weeks after being infected with the coronavirus, scientifically known as SARS-Cov-2.

However, antibodies are just one type of substance that can induce immunity. The immune system is a huge network of proteins that have various functions to protect the body from infection.

T cells – which cannot be detected by the "have you had" antibody tests – done in response to the infection may provide a form of immunity that is many times longer.

T cells are a type of white blood cell that is a key component of the immune system and helps fight disease.

Other scientific studies have shown that people who have had a cold in the past two years have T cells that show "cross-reactive protection" against Covid-19.

This memory can fade faster in people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions.

Professor Wendy Barclay, a virologist at Imperial, unveiled the REACT-2 results on Monday, saying, “This study shows that taking a snapshot of the population, there are fewer antibodies overall.

& # 39; Seasonal coronaviruses can re-infect after six to 12 months. We suspect that the way the new coronavirus infects people is similar. & # 39;

However, independent scientists said the results are not as clear-cut. Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, said: “This study confirms the suspicion that antibody responses, especially in vulnerable elderly people, decrease over time.

“What is less clear from this type of study is the relationship between dwindling immunity and susceptibility to reinfection and the resulting severity of subsequent infection. This is important to know.

“Antibodies are likely to be important in protecting us from future infections and diseases, but other arms of the immune system, such as cellular immunity, could also be critical.

"So it is important that we have a better understanding of what protective immunity looks like. This can only be achieved by measuring all aspects of post-infection immunity and examining how this affects the risk of re-infection."

Dr. Alexander Edwards, Associate Professor of Biomedical Technology at the University of Reading added, “When people are sick, antibody levels go up, and when you heal, antibody levels naturally go down – this is not exactly the same thing as loss of immunity.

“It is unclear how quickly the antibody levels would rise again if a person encounters the SARS-CoV-2 virus a second time. It is possible that they may still be quick to react and either have a milder illness or be protected by immune memory.

“Even if the rapid antibody test is no longer positive, the person can still be protected from renewed infection. But we don't know that yet – it takes time to find out by following large groups for many months, and this type of study is ongoing. & # 39;

As part of the REACT-2 study, the researchers sent blood tests with fingerprint antibodies to the homes of 350,000 adults in England between July and September.

People of all ages were randomly selected from the NHS patient list, which includes all those registered with a family doctor in England.

Participants had to perform the test themselves and send a picture of their results to the research team for review. A total of 17,676 people tested positive for antibodies during the three month period.

In the first round of the study in July, three months after the first peak of the pandemic in early April, about 100,000 people were recruited.

In the second phase, 105,000 people were tested in August, while 160,000 samples were collected in the third round of the study.

The proportion of people who tested positive for antibodies fell from 6 percent in July to 4.8 percent in August and finally to 4.4 percent in September. In the three rounds there was a decrease of 26.3 percent.

The prevalence was highest among those aged 18-24, who were actively encouraged to boost the economy after the lockdown ended, and lowest among those over 75, who were advised to stay home and as much as possible shield.

London had the highest number of people with antibodies at 9.5 percent, compared with 1.6 percent in the south-west of England, where the prevalence was lowest.

The capital was bombed by the virus during the first wave when an influx of cases was imported from Europe and Asia as it was the country's transportation hub.

This meant more Londoners were exposed to the disease before it migrated to other parts of the UK.

People of black skin color (13.8 percent) and of Asian descent (9.7 percent) were more likely to have the disease than whites (3.6 percent).

The racial discrepancy has been confirmed in numerous other studies. Experts believe ethnic minorities are at greater risk because they have publicly available jobs, use public transport more often, and live in deprived areas.

Health and social workers were most likely to have Covid-19 antibodies in all three rounds of testing. The prevalence of people in these occupations did not change over the three months.

In the paper, Imperial researchers wrote, “We are seeing a significant decrease in the proportion of the population with detectable antibodies over three rounds of national surveillance using a self-administered lateral flow test, 12, 18 and 24 weeks after the first peak of infections in England.

'This is consistent with evidence that immunity to seasonal coronaviruses declines six to 12 months after infection.

& # 39; The relevance of antibody decrease to the potential for re-infection from SARS CoV-2 is currently unclear … Understanding the ongoing risks of re-infection for the population is key to understanding the future course of the epidemic.

In addition, it is currently not clear what contribution T-cell immunity and memory reactions make to protective immunity when exposed again.

"Hence, it is not possible to say with certainty that the loss of antibody positivity would … correlate with an increased risk of re-infection in an individual."

"However, at the population level, the observed weight loss may indicate a general decline in population immunity."

Scientists still don't know for sure if people can catch Covid-19 more than once or if they become immune after their first infection.

With some diseases, such as chickenpox, when they get back into the body, the body has precise memories of how to destroy them and can fight them off before symptoms start. However, it is still unclear whether people with coronavirus can get it again.

What are the cases where people get infected with coronavirus again?

Ecuador: man, 46

First infection: mild. Second infection: serious

A 46-year-old man suffered a more severe infection when he caught the virus for the second time. After first catching the virus in May and later tested negative, it was wiped again in August after showing mild symptoms and was found to be infected again. He suffered from worse symptoms such as fever, headache and sore throat, but did not need to be hospitalized. When he first got infected, he had a headache, a sore throat, and tiredness. Genetic sequencing showed that he was infected with two different strains of the virus.

Dutch: woman, 86

First infection: mild. Second infection: death

An 86-year-old woman died after being infected again with coronavirus. She recovered from the first case, but developed a fever, cough, and shortness of breath two months later. Covid-19 was re-diagnosed. The infection came after she started chemotherapy for an underlying health condition. Genetic studies showed that she was infected with two different strains of the virus.

Belgium: woman, 50s

First infection: mild. Second infection: mild

A woman in her fifties suffered a second infection in June after first contracting the virus in March. Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst did not publish the details of the case, but claimed the woman developed very few antibodies after her first infection, suggesting that it made her more vulnerable.

Hong Kong: Man, 33

First infection: mild. Second infection: mild

A 33-year-old man who was infected with the virus in March suffered a second infection in August. After returning from a trip to Spain via the UK, he was retested and found positive for Covid-19. He didn't have symptoms with the second infection, which scientists said might show re-infections are generally milder.

Source: International SOS

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