Medical professionals discuss antibody testing

Local News

(WEHT)- Research is showing it might be possible for someone to get COVID-19 more than once. Antibodies that develop when a person is infected might not last as long as originally thought. During Governor Eric Holcomb’s latest address, State Health Commissioner Doctor Kristina Box explained those who have already recovered from COVID-19 might not be as safe as they thought.

“The coronavirus people get, they develop some brief immunity, the ability to fight that virus off, but unfortunately that immunity doesn’t stick around and that’s why we keep getting the common cold over and over again,” Dr. Box says.

Box says new studies show the virus is behaving similarly to other coronaviruses that cause the common cold. Doctor Chris Belcher with Ascension St. Vincent explains how antibodies work.

“Antibodies are small proteins in your blood that hang around for a period of time and they will stick to the virus,” Dr. Belcher explains.

The blood test has been available for a few months and worked as a way for doctors to determine if patients had already been infected. Belcher says there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered, “as to whether someone who has immunity and has antibodies is able to either still transmit the virus, to catch it again, will they get symptoms again, are they at risk for a severe disease?”

But Box says the research she’s seen shows those proteins aren’t staying, “even individuals that do develop immunity, develop antibodies, unfortunately, those antibodies in many cases are disappearing very quickly.”

She explains no matter how many people are exposed, it won’t help the greater population,” it doesn’t matter how many people we expose, you’re not going to probably develop herd immunity.”

Belcher says, whether you’ve had the virus or not you should still wear a mask, “the experts, the virologist, the epidemiologist have not proven that yet to know how long is that immunity, how long is it going to keep from spreading. The safest thing, the best thing, is to wear your mask.”

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(This story was originally published on July 13, 2020)

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