General, Research, Technology

How many antibodies do you need to build immunity against COVID-19?

When a virus is a foreign pathogen that causesdisease - attacks the body, the response to its effect is the production of antibodies by the body, which are contained in tissues and blood. Antibodies are proteins that bind to and destroy the virus. They also prevent the virus from making copies of itself and further spreading the infection. To find out if your body has developed antibodies against coronavirus today, you can use a special antibody test, it is also called a serological test or research. The presence of antibodies in the body most likely means that you have been exposed to the COVID-19 disease, the causative agent of which is the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Serological studies are also helping scientists better understand the spread of the virus, which is especially important in the current context of containing the pandemic. A positive antibody test, however, is not a guarantee that you are immune to infection, and yet many experts recommend that you undergo serological testing before vaccination.

A blood test for antibodies to the causative agent COVID-19 is performed to assess the immune response to a current or previous infection.

Why does the body need antibodies?

During evolution, the organism of Homo Sapiensimproved mechanisms of infection control. Today, molecules produced by the immune system (antibodies) help the human body to fight any invasion from outside, such as viruses or allergens. Antibodies or "immunoglobulins" (abbreviated Ig) are divided into several classes and are denoted by the Latin alphabet (A, M, G, E, D). But how does the immune system behave when an infectious agent enters the body?

To simplify greatly, then first with the pathogencells of the immune system are in contact. After recognizing a foreign agent and identifying its features, cells begin to produce IgM antibodies to this pathogen. Antibodies recognize coronavirus, neutralize and store information about the infection in case of a new meeting with it. In fact, the task of the immune system is to expel or destroy the causative agent of the infection, "remembering" it, taking into account all previous meetings with it.

Immune cells create antibodies to fight off viruses, parasites or bacteria.

Re-infection IgG antibodiesare produced quickly (due to immunological memory) and in large quantities, neutralizing this microorganism without any consequences for the body. This is how our immune system works when faced with many (but not all) infections.

See also: Why do viruses need a spike protein?

How many antibodies are produced?

It is believed that the production of antibodies to coronavirusSARS-CoV-2 can take from a week to 14 days, and antibody levels vary over time - from the time the virus is exposed to the body and the response of the human immune system. This means that the absence of antibodies does not necessarily mean that you have not been exposed to the virus.

According to the New York Times, experts generally agree that based on experience with other viruses, including the COVID-19 close relatives of the SARS and MERS coronaviruses, the presence of antibodies is likely to provide some level of protection, although whether this protection is reliable and how long it lasts, researchers cannot yet say.

As it spreads across the planet, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus mutates, giving rise to new, more infectious strains.

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During testing for antibodies, the patient is takena blood sample and then tested for antibodies. Most test results are usually available within a few days, but the process can take longer or less time. It is important to understand that an antibody test is not the same as a diagnostic test for COVID-19... Antibody test results cannot be interpreted as diagnostic.

Do I need to get vaccinated if the antibody test is positive?

We recently talked about the fact that the vaccine againstCOVID-19 "Sputnik V" is recognized as safe, and its effectiveness is 92%. Considering that the consequences of the transferred COVID-19 are fraught with serious health problems (the more severe the disease progressed, the more severe the consequences), the side effects of vaccination recorded in clinical trials do not look at all scary.

But what about those who have already been ill? As stated on the WHO website, those who have already had an infection should wait six months before vaccination... The reason why WHO is giving this advice is clear -in case of a shortage of vaccines, they need to be distributed in favor of people who do not have antibodies (natural protection against infection), and those who have been ill are provided with such protection.

The coronavirus has its own mechanism for hacking into human cells.

You may be wondering: Cats and dogs may need a new coronavirus vaccine. But why?

In turn, Rospotrebnadzor notes thatthose who have recovered will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 already on the eve of the next epidemic season, that is, not earlier than the fall of 2021. One way or another, in order to find out whether you need the vaccination for you, you can sign up for vaccination through the State Services at this link. On the appointed day, you will need to be examined by a therapist without fail - in case there are contraindications to vaccination.

Despite the fact that when registering for vaccinationNothing is said about serological testing; many doctors recommend pre-taking the test for anyone who wants to get vaccinated. This is because if antibodies are found in the body, then there will be no point in vaccination. But if you were ill with COVID-19 a year ago, then vaccination may be needed. Read more in the material of my colleague from Ilya Kuznetsov.