Recently, a new study conducted at the Imperial College London, also known as the REACT-2 study, has examined antibody responses in people who tested positive in the months of June and July and reported that coronavirus antibodies diagnosed in the majority had disappeared by the mid of September, which shows that people who have had the infection and recovered from it may also not stay immune for a long period of time.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, one of the biggest ongoing debates has been regarding the development of herd or global immunity against the coronavirus and its role in ending the health crisis all over the world.
While the medical community has explicitly rejected plans which rely on herd immunity alone, many government officials and political leaders in different countries, specifically in the US, have endorsed the concept of global immunity openly.
According to most of the leading disease experts, the concept is often misunderstood. Herd immunity does not mean letting people get infected in order for most people to have antibodies against a particular pathogen but by achieving immunity in the majority by the development and distribution of vaccines.
The more people get vaccinated against a pathogen, the less dangerous it becomes. In addition, most people getting a vaccine shot can also protect those who are unable to get one as it also brings down the overall transmission rates of the virus.
However, a big number of people assume that global immunity means a higher number of people getting infected and developing immunity naturally. Not only is this unethical and unfair to many people but can also significantly increase mortality rates especially among vulnerable groups such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.
Now, the findings of the new study till now show that herd immunity as promoted by its supporters cannot be achieved merely by letting people get infected researchers have found that the coronavirus antibodies can fade away in a matter of weeks.
According to the first data of the research, only six percent of the 100,000 people who tested positive for antibodies in late June and mid-July had antibodies in August. The second set further showed that the percentage slowly fell to 4.8 percent.
For people who tested positive between mid-September, the antibody response dropped to 4.4 percent as reported in the third and most recent data set.
While antibodies disappeared among all age groups, the highest rate was noted in older adults over the age of seventy-five with a rate of thirty-nine percent. On the other hand, the young adults age group of people between the ages of eighteen to twenty-four had a rate of 14.9 percent.
Although these findings and data-set still have to be peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal, there is good evidence to suggest that the coronavirus antibodies can indeed disappear in a short span of time along with re-infection cases being reported by hospitals around the world.