Antibodies against the Coronavirus is important, but not everything

Viral RNA, immune response and helper cells: reporting in times of Corona often resembles a training course in basics of biology. Over a aspect have been reported in the past few weeks, most often: anti body. At Covid-19, they are formed mostly at the end of the first week of illness and remain afterwards for some time in the blood of Convalescent. The question is, however: How long?

It is unclear yet if and how well the anti-body against re-infection with the Coronavirus can protect. In the fight against the Virus has a crucial role to play, particularly in the so-called neutralizing antibodies. This can for example, bind to viruses and pathogens prevent them from getting into human cells. Experts hope that antibodies contribute to a genesener man remains, at least for a time, against the Coronavirus immune, so for a certain window of time not a second Time with the same pathogen can infect.

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Antibodies are not only caused by natural infection with the Coronavirus, which could also be detected in the blood of vaccinated test subjects in several clinical studies. This is interpreted as evidence that certain Corona vaccines trigger an immune reaction in the body; an important step to further, larger-scale studies in which the efficacy of the vaccine candidate is to be examined. In the room the question is: Can protect the vaccines actually also against infection with the Coronavirus, or the course of the disease, at least, mitigated?

Studies suggested that the antibody may decrease the concentration within a few weeks after recovering from infection significantly. Since then, many ask: What is the impact on a possible immunity against Sars-Cov-2 has? And what is the impact on the vaccine development?

Clemens Wendtner, chief of infectious diseases and tropical medicine at the Klinikum Schwabing, not appeased: “Even if the first results in a partial loss of neutralizing antibodies in Covid-19-patients’ point out, means this, that this goes hand in hand with a loss of the immunity to the Virus.” Reports of possible Re-infections with the Coronavirus had to the last stirred up the fear that there could be no immunity against the pathogen or that this only lasts a very short. Wendtner considers these portrayals, however, was not convincing: “To date, 19 patients with Sars-CoV has been no clear Re-infection, and from convalescent Covid–2 reported.”

T-cells in focus

Wendtner refers to another possibility of the immune system, which seems to play in addition to antibodies, an important role in the fight against the Coronavirus: the so-called T-cells. You are one of the lymphocytes, a sub-group of white blood cells, and can detect foreign to the body structures and combat. For example, there are T-cells, the virus-infected body kill its own cells. Other enable so-called B-cells, which then form antibodies.

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“The first Work to show that T cells from convalescent Covid-19 -patient-specific protein molecules of the Sars-CoV-2-detect Virus,” says Wendtner. “Patients who had survived 2003, the first Sars infection, showed still the so-called T-memory cells also reacted against the new Sars-CoV-2 Virus.” This may be an indication that it comes after surviving infection to a kind of immune memory against the pathogen.

“First results indicate that the Sars-CoV-2 Virus that triggers the right is universal in most patients, with a wide and strong B – and T-cell response,” says Julian Schulze zur Wiesch, Chief physician of the section of infectious diseases at the UKE in Hamburg. He also refers to experiences with other viruses: “From the antibodies the course of other viral infections, such as, of course, healed up Hepatitis C infection, it is known that a T-cell response remains still over the years, although the antibodies in some patients undetectable.”

Many open questions

The role of the white blood cells in the fight against Covid-19 and if you can, for example, affect the course of the disease positively, however, is still unclear. “Further unanswered questions concern the duration of any immune protection by T-memory cells against subsequent Re-infections, and whether in developing vaccines, in addition to antibodies and effective T-cell responses inducing” stresses Andreas mountain Thaler, head of the research group on Viral pathogenesis at the CeMM research Institute.

A Impfkandidat the University of Oxford seems to do this, such as a recently in the journal “The Lancet” published a study suggests. In the blood of test persons of both antibodies and specific T were detected in a-cells.

Even if a natural infection, it should not trigger a protective immune response of the body against the Coronavirus, this could still afford the vaccination. The immune responses were to be compared to “only partially” with each other, so Schulze zur Wiesch.

The Munich-based physicians Clemens Wendtner warns in the current debate around the vaccine-development to be more patient – that a vaccine candidate can actually protect against the Coronavirus, is not ultimately proven yet. “Only if it is determined that a vaccine has been to protect humanity really Covid-19, is achieved the class goal.”

Sources: German center for infection research (DZIF) / quotes according to the Science Media centre

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