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Current Affairs

Younger patients develop fewer neutralising anti-bodies

Date: 13 April 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Analysis of blood samples from 175 patients with mild COVID-19 disease who were discharged revealed that about 30% of patients had unexpectedly low levels of antibodies against novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). 

 

Background

The study also showed that the plasma of elderly and middle-age patients had significantly higher amount of neutralising antibodies and spike-binding antibodies than young patients. 

 

Details

  • Though about 30% of patients failed to develop high amounts of neutralising antibodies even after recovering from COVID-19 disease, the disease duration was not longer than older patients.

  • Likewise, older patients who had more neutralising antibodies did not recover faster. So immaterial of the amount of neutralising antibodies found, both young and old patients took the same time to recover.

  • The amount of neutralising antibodies generated in response to vaccination determines the efficacy of the vaccine in protecting against the virus.

  • In this case, if infection with actual virus has not resulted in eliciting strong antibody response and hence elevated neutralising antibodies, it is not clear if vaccine which have killed or weakened viruses would be able to produce high amounts of antibodies.

  • But the researchers were not able to detect viral DNA in the blood samples collected and information about viral load was not available for all the patients. So it is not known if young patients had lower viral load thus resulting in lower amounts of neutralising antibodies.

  • The researchers excluded patients who had been admitted to intensive care units because many of them already had antibodies from donated blood plasma.

  • The higher amounts of neutralising antibodies found in older patients may be due to “strong immune response” in aged people, the study suggests. But whether the elevated neutralising antibodies found in older people protect them from progression to severe and critical conditions is not known.

  • The researchers also found antibodies generated in response to novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) could bind with 2003 SARS strains. However, the binding was not able to stop the SARS virus from replicating. This raises the possibility of developing a vaccine that might be effective against both novel coronavirus as well the 2003 SARS virus.