In the recovery of COVID-19 patients, the antibodies fade quickly

In the recovery of COVID-19 patients, the antibodies fade quickly
In the recovery of COVID-19 patients, the antibodies fade quickly
Washington, DC – October 16, 2020 – In the absence of approved, effective treatments for COVID-19, some hospitals have treated patients with severe COVID symptoms with blood plasma after recovering from patients. The blood of recovered patients contains antibodies that act against the coronavirus. While plasma has not yet shown any benefit in randomized trials, some small retrospective studies suggest that it may reduce the severity of the disease and shorten hospital stay.

This week in mBioResearchers, an open access journal from the American Society for Microbiology, report that antibody levels in the blood of COVID-19 patients drop rapidly in the weeks after their bodies clears the virus and symptoms have subsided. Ultimately, if convalescent plasma is found to have a clear benefit, the authors say, it must be collected during a specific time window after recovery. However, recovery patients cannot donate blood for at least 14 days after symptoms have subsided to give the body time to remove virus particles.

“We don’t want to transfuse the virus, just the antibodies,” said Dr. Andrés Finzi from the University of Montreal in Canada. “At the same time, our work shows that the ability of the plasma to neutralize virus particles decreases in these first few weeks.”

The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein plays a critical role in the detection and invasion of the virus by host cells. Antibodies produced by the body’s immune system bind to part of this protein and block the ability of this “key” to contact the host’s cellular “barrier”, Finzi said, thereby preventing the virus particle from infecting a cell host.

Previous studies suggest that antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein peak 2 or 3 weeks after symptoms appear. Results from an earlier cross-sectional study by the Finzi group of more than 100 patients indicated that the ability of the plasma to neutralize the virus decreased significantly between 3 and 6 weeks after symptoms appeared.

In the new longitudinal study, Finzi and his colleagues analyzed blood samples from 31 people who had recovered from COVID-19 at one-month intervals. They measured the immunoglobulin levels that act against the coronavirus S protein and tested the antibodies’ ability to neutralize the virus.

The researchers observed differences in the concentration of individual patients, but identified a consistent overall signal: levels of immunoglobulins G, A, and M, which target the binding site, decreased between 6 and 10 weeks after symptoms began. During the same period, the ability of the antibodies to neutralize the virus similarly decreased.

Finzi’s group continued to examine blood samples from the patients. Understanding how antibody levels change over time is important not only to optimize the use of convalescent plasma, but also to understand the effectiveness of the vaccine and to determine whether or not previously infected people are at risk of re-infection Not.

“How long do antibodies protect you?” He asked.

Finzi’s other research focuses on the immune response to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is dramatically different from SARS-CoV-2.


ASM keeps the pulse of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with the COVID-19 research register of high-level research articles curated by experts. In the event of a pandemic, this curated database will ensure that scientists, journalists, and the public can efficiently identify the most current and valuable SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 research from the latest journal articles and preprints.

The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies for the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and alternative practitioners. ASM’s mission is to promote and advance microbial science.

ASM promotes microbial science through conferences, publications, certifications, and educational opportunities. It expands laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It offers a network for scientists from science, industry and clinic. In addition, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of microbial sciences for different target groups.

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