Falling numbers of corona antibodies dampen vaccine hope


Do recovered Covid-19 patients have antibodies in their blood that make them immune to a new illness? An investigation by the Schwabinger Klinik in Munich poses this question. Blood tests were carried out on the first corona patients in Germany who were treated in Munich at the end of January.

Tests do not indicate prolonged immunity to corona

The result not only dampens hope for long-lasting immunity to the coronavirus, but also long-term effectiveness of a possible vaccination against corona. Research on a vaccine against corona is currently in full swing, initial tests on test subjects have already been carried out.

The tests carried out showed a clear decrease in the number of so-called neutralizing antibodies in the blood, reported Clemens Wendtner, chief physician at Schwabing Hospital. “In four of the nine patients, we see falling neutralizing antibodies in a very special test that can only be carried out in a high-security laboratory,” said Wendtner. “The extent to which this has an impact on long-term immunity and vaccination strategies is still speculative, but must be monitored critically as it progresses.” However, it suggests that a new infection is possible after the illness. This must be observed further, said Wendtner.

Findings coincide with other study results

In addition to the so-called B-cell-associated immunity measured via antibodies, the so-called T-cell immunity is also relevant for long-term immunity. If patients lose neutralizing antibodies, this could possibly provide protection, says Wendtner. T-lymphocytes can kill virus-infected cells in a targeted manner once they have met their opponent.

Wendtner’s findings are in line with the experiences of other scientists and study results. Chinese researchers reported in the journal “Nature Medicine” that the antibodies decreased sharply after two months, especially in patients with a symptom-free course, but the values ​​also fell significantly in patients who were actually ill. Patients with few symptoms also had fewer antibodies and therefore a weaker immune response.

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