Coronavirus Report July 18: Antibody Issues and Vaccine Doubts

There are now more than 14 million cases of COVID-19 across the globe, with about 25 percent inthe U.S. Now there are fears that victims might get it again.

Generally, when you fight off a virus like the coronavirus, your body builds antibodies that seek out and destroy the invaders.  After the virus is gone, the antibodies remain and help you fight off the disease in the future, providing immunity.

Vaccines leverage this antibody effect by causing your body to generate antibodies without causing you to be sick.  To achieve this effect, traditional vaccines are made from a dead, weakened, or attenuated version of the virus. Many of the COVID-19 vaccines in development use new, advanced techniques, but they all trigger the body to make antibodies.

What some scientists are seeing is that the antibodies from COVID-19 might not stick around for long enough to provide effective, long-term protection.  That means that people who catch COVID-19 and recover might catch it again some months or a year down the road.  It also means that vaccines may be less effective or that people will need repeated dosing to keep their antibody levels high enough to prevent infection.

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