2021-02-23

Tech giant Musk and scientists published new crown research: having antibodies does not mean immunity to viruses

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What is interesting is that this work has brought together the efforts of multiple teams, not only from Researchers and doctors from Harvard University’s Ragon Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), as well as technology giant Elon Musk and its space exploration company SpaceX More than 4,000 employees.

Tech giant Musk and scientists published new crown research: having antibodies does not mean immunity to viruses

In this In the peer-reviewed research papers, you can see that Elon Musk is one of the co-authors

“This collaboration with SpaceX brings together immunologists, epidemiologists, molecular and computational biologists, and Infectious disease modeling engineers are a good example of teamwork across institutions and disciplines.” One of the co-authors of the study, Professor Eric Nilles of Harvard Medical School, commented.

This research was launched in April 2020, which is the early stage of the pandemic caused by the new crown epidemic in the world. At that time, it was not clear how much protection the antibodies produced by the immune system can play. It is uncertain whether asymptomatic infection can produce long-acting antibodies that are sufficient to neutralize the virus. Therefore, the researchers’ initial goal was to test the changes in antibody levels in infected individuals over time.

Tech giant Musk and scientists published new crown research: having antibodies does not mean immunity to viruses(1)

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So, this cooperative project quickly recruited more than 4,000 SpaceX employees distributed in various parts of the United States to volunteer for monthly blood monitoring. Among them, about 300 people were infected with the new crown, including mild and asymptomatic infections. Researchers conducted an in-depth analysis of the data of 120 people to study their infection and subsequent antibody levels.

After analyzing the immune response of these antibodies using a number of complex techniques, the researchers found that in mild cases, individuals with strong symptoms developed a large number of antibodies and developed a protective Related immune function. Specifically, only when the immune response contains antibodies against the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the new coronavirus spike protein, and reaches a certain titer, can the antibody effector functions related to lasting protection be opened, such as virus neutralization, Specific T cell response, etc.

On the contrary, the presence of new coronavirus antibodies can be used to indicate exposure to the new coronavirus, but this is not enough to determine whether it has long-term protection. Some individuals with mild symptoms produce fewer antibodies, reaching the long-term immune threshold The probability is low.

“People who have antibodies do not mean that they will be immune to the new coronavirus.” Dr. Galit Alter, who led the research, concluded. “This study actually tells us that it is not only the presence or absence of antibodies that is important, but the number and type of antibodies that play a decisive role in the development of a protective immune response.”

With the development of the epidemic When secondary infections gradually appear, these findings also help us understand why some people get infected again. The research team stated that it will continue to test monthly to monitor for secondary infections, especially when the mutant virus strain is spreading.

Currently, there are many new crown vaccines around the world. Researchers believe that their findings also provide information for guiding vaccination. For example, it can be used to understand who is at higher risk of infection and should be given priority. vaccine.

It is worth mentioning that Professor Alter pointed out that “the good news is that after two doses of vaccine, the antibody titers induced by most vaccines are much higher than those of the individuals tested in the study”.