Recent news has revealed that people may experience a decrease in antibody levels six months after receiving vaccinations. started taking antibodyTo test their resistance to COVID-19.
It’s tempting: Booster shots are available for many people, and the hope is that an antibody test — which involves a quick blood draw — could provide some clues as to whether or not you may be due for another vaccine.
It is important to understand the following: general consensus among infectious diseases specialists is that it’s far too early for people to be making serious decisions off of antibody tests results. The Food and Drug Administration stated in May that these tests should not be used to measure a person’s immunity after vaccination. The data is limited, and antibody tests don’t show the full picture of how durable our immune response is.
Scientists have discovered important clues regarding antibody levels and their protection against symptoms of infection. But, still, we don’t have enough data to declare a person is protected if they have a certain amount of antibodies in their system.
“The antibody tests are fun, but they are limited,” Adam RatnerHuffPost was told by Judith Sullivan, director of pediatric infectious disease at NYU Langone Health.
For example, there is no universal standard for antibody tests — results may fluctuate depending on what company’s test you take. They are generally within the same range, however. Monica GandhiAn infectious diseases specialist from the University of California San Francisco, Dr.
Are antibody tests ever useful?
There are various types of antibody tests out there — qualitative, which will simply tell you whether or not you have antibodies, and quantitative, which put a number to how many antibodies you have.
Qualitative tests — the ones that result in either a plus or a minus — are helpful in determining if you’ve been infected in the past, but they aren’t useful when it comes to evaluating vaccine-induced immunity.
“Even if you check an antibody quantitatively and tell me your number, I don’t know what to tell you — is it enough, is it going to protect you, is it too low? — we just don’t have that data yet.”
There are also antibody tests that measure antibodies against the spike protein (which is what the vaccines are designed to teach our immune system to attack) and others that measure antibodies against an element called the nucleocapsid (which are helpful in identifying if someone previously had COVID-19, but they fall short at detecting antibodies in someone who’s only been vaccinated).
We will be discussing quantitative antibody tests, which measure antibodies to spike protein in order to help people who have been vaccinated want to assess their antibodies.
The main dilemma with quantitative antibody tests is that we don’t know exactly how many of those antibodies you need for protection against COVID-19.
“Even if you check an antibody quantitatively and tell me your number, I don’t know what to tell you — is it enough, is it going to protect you, is it too low? — we just don’t have that data yet,” said Onyema OgbuaguYale Medicine’s infectious disease specialist.
With other infections, higher antibodies correlate to stronger protection, and it won’t be unusual if that’s also the case with COVID-19, Ogbuagu said. However, we need additional data to better understand how the coronavirus is linked.
One preprint study offers clues. These are the researchWe examined specific correlates for protection against COVID-19 symptoms and discovered that the vaccine effectiveness against this condition was 90.7% at levels of 100 u/mL. This rose to 96.1% at levels of 1,000 u/mL.
But that’s just one study, and we need many more. “There is still not a really robust correlate of immunity, meaning a level of antibody where if you’re above that level we can confidently say, ‘yes, this person is protected,’” Ratner said.
Experts are generally in agreement that antibodies tests can be used to determine if there was an infection prior and identify if the person has an immune system response after the booster or the first round. Gandhi stated.
What antibody tests can’t tell us
Antibody tests do not measure the second important arm of your immune system. This is the T cells, which clear infected cell and prevent infection from getting worse. The B cells produce new antibodies upon being exposed. Because of that, “we need to be very cautious of how we interpret antibodies waning over time,” Ogbuagu said.
While your antibodies will naturally decrease over time, the virus will remain in your body. You could be protected long-term from severe illness and hospitalization even if your antibody tests show that you do not have enough antibodies.
Antibody tests also don’t tell us the QualityThey detect antibodies. Some evidence supports this assertion. antibody levels declineThese antibodies are replaced gradually by better-quality antibodies. It is possible to keep your immune system protected with fewer antibodies. “Waning antibodies don’t tell the full story,” Gandhi said.
Again, there’s a lot we still don’t know about antibodies and protection. According to Ratner, the vast majority of vaccinated people will have some amount of detectable antibodies in their system, but we are still figuring out how they correlate to protection and when they indicate it’s time for a booster.
“What we do know is that, in aggregate, those people are mostly protected against severe disease,” Ratner said.
COVID-19 remains a mystery to experts. Information in this article is current and accurate as it was published. Scientists may discover new information about COVID-19. Thank you check the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionGet the most recent recommendations.