Immunity to Covid-19
As we all battle the Covid pandemic, one milestone seems to incite the greatest hope for a return to normalcy: immunity to the virus. Immunity can be achieved by coming into contact with the virus and recovering or through a vaccine. But both domestic and global research is showing that the antibodies that define immunity have a very short life span- something approximating 3-4 months. So what does that mean about Covid immunity? Can we expect continued protection when the 3-4 month time period of antibody coverage expires?
Protection May Last
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Fighter “T” Cells
T cells are proteins that we all make and that circulate in our bloodstream. They are part of our natural immune system. They work by guiding the production of antibodies to invading pathogens. Antibodies work by neutralizing the ability of a pathogen (bacteria or virus) to harm the host body. T cells are smart, meaning that the more antibodies they create, the more refined and effective those antibodies become. I seems clear that, while the number of Covid antibodies in a person’s system significantly decreases in a relatively short time, the T cells “remember” how to make the most advanced antibodies and can ramp up production of them rapidly. The significance of this is that, while antibodies in a patients bloodstream may disappear after just a short time, the T cells retain the most up-to-date information on how to remake the and the process is much more abbreviated the the original build up.
The second factor that seems significant is that vaccines may act differently when antibodies are formed. The theory is that, because a vaccine uses a more pure version of the virus than what is transmitted environmentally, the antibodies formed may last longer in the body. This is a theory because human testing of a Covid vaccine has just barely begun and there is no data that can yet be evaluated. That will begin to happen over time.
The bottom line is that there is reason to hope for an end to this pandemic. That hope dimmed a bit as research showed a very shot life-span of acquired antibodies following exposure to and recovery form Covid. However, as discussed, that issue may not be a deal-breaker and it does appear, for the moment at least, that effective immunity is within reach.