Majority of U.S. has Covid antibodies, what that means for you
Many people worry that another Covid surge will be caused by the highly contagious BA.2 variant.
But experts say a significant jump in cases is unlikely, at least for now — possibly due to a recent estimate that nearly all Americans currently have some level of Covid antibodies in their systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are 86 cases of the disease. survey of blood donor samplesThe study, which was conducted last month and completed in December, found that 95% of Americans aged 16 or older had developed identifiable Covid antibodies. Those come from both vaccinations — roughly 77% of the U.S. population has received at least one Covid vaccine dose, according to the CDC — and prior Covid infections.
This is one reason why experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci (White House chief medical advisor) don’t think there will be another. sharp rise in Covid cases just yet — even though BA.2 is surging across Europe, and cases of the subvariant have doubled over the last threeWeeks in the U.S.
This is good news but doesn’t necessarily mean that a tsunami will not occur. Some antibodies disappear faster than others, and some are only temporary. Some antibodies don’t really help you fight the virus. The virus is unpredictable, so it’s impossible to predict the future.
The CDC’s survey acknowledges this, estimating that in June 2021 — ahead of the delta variant’s July peak in the U.S. — more than 87% of Americans had Covid antibodies in their systems. This is what experts recommend you learn about current antibody levels across the nation.
According to the estimate, 95% is “probably accurate.” Dr. Timothy BrewerProfessor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School, in the Division of Infectious Diseases. There is an important difference between those who received their antibodies through Covid vaccines and those who had only prior infections.
Brewer states that the antibodies of vaccinated people tend to fall after approximately four to six month. Your antibody booster in December will likely wear off by April or June, even if it was a boost dose.
Natural immunity data is more mixed.
An according to October 2021 studyThe Yale School of Public Health reported that people who have not been vaccinated could become immune for up to six months after they get Covid. Researchers at Yale School of Public Health wrote that further data was needed to confirm these findings, noting that the research did not include subvariants or variants such as BA.
Science published a different study, which was also published in January 2022According to researchers, natural immunity may last for as much as eight months. A CDC study published in September 2021 showed that roughly one-third of participants with Covid developed no apparent natural immunity.
Brewer said that there are no good data on the length of natural infection-associated antibodies.
A study found that people who have not been vaccinated are more likely to contract the disease again than those who were vaccinated following Covid. study publishedThe National Library of Medicine August 2013. Brewer points out that those who are cured from an omicron infected have a greater protection against BA.2 than those who are vaccinated for other Covid variants or who last got vaccinated over four to six month ago.
“However, [a]”Vaccination or an infection prior to the event still provides protection against severe disease and death,” he said.
Dr. Salman KhanLenox Hill Hospital infectious disease specialist, New York City. He says most Americans are immune to Covid. He says that not all antibodies are “Covid-fighting” or neutralizing.
Khan says that “non neutralizing antibodies” can sometimes be produced when a pathogen is present. He says that these antibodies don’t bind enough to the exact site of the pathogen to prevent it from causing infection. SARS CoV-2 could be caused by mutations to spike protein.
Hannah Newman (director of infection prevention at Lenox Hill Hospital) says that non-neutralizing antibodies function almost like a GPS. They still attach themselves to the virus, but instead of working to stop the pathogen from spreading — like neutralizing antibodies do — they “serve as a locator, indicating to other parts of the immune system that there is a problem,” Newman says.
In other words, both types of antibodies are helpful to a degree — but testing positive for Covid antibodies is no guarantee that your body will be able to fight off a future Covid infection.
There is one lesson we can learn from the Covid pandemic: nobody can forecast the future. John P. Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medicine.
Moore says that people believe the pandemic has ended, so they relax and are less careful. Moore says that in real life, we don’t know what the future holds.
Johns Hopkins University data shows that the average daily number of U.S. new cases per day was 30662 as of Monday. Moore said that while this number is low, it was still a significant pandemic indicator. However, Moore believes that the trend could be “real” or merely a temporary blip.
Moore says that it is important to keep in mind that the CDC antibody statistic for antibodies is only an estimate. Moore says that it’s 95% blood donors. He also points out that this study doesn’t cover anyone younger than 16. “The question here is how representative of the general populace are blood donors?”
Moore states that he isn’t suggesting everyone should go into their basements and never come out. Moore suggests that each individual should assess their risk perception and decide whether or not to take Covid-related actions based upon their personal lives and circumstances.