DAK for immune testing for recovered Coronavirus patients

Srinagar: With reports that recovered Coronavirus patients are getting re-infected, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday urged health authorities in Kashmir valley to test recovered patients for antibodies that would help to know whether they are immune for re-infection.

“Patients who recover are getting infected with the virus again,” DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan said here on Friday.

He said as many as 141 cases in South Korea, who had recovered from the disease, were tested positive for the virus again. “About 15 per cent of recovered patients in the Southern Chinese city of Shenzhen were retested positive for the virus,” he added.

Dr Hassan said while the recovery rate is promising, it does not mean that those who have been infected with the novel virus are not still at risk. “Having the virus once does not mean you can’t get sick from it again,” he said.

The DAK president said not all people who recover from Coronavirus have the antibodies to fight a second infection. “A new study from China suggests that some people who have recovered from Coronavirus have very low or even undetectable levels of protective antibodies against the virus,” he said.

“The study found that almost a third of those who recovered had low levels of antibodies against the virus, with ten patients having no detectable levels of neutralizing antibodies at all,” he added.

Dr Hassan said this raises concern that patients surviving COVID-19 don’t develop immunity to prevent re-infection. “The low amounts of antibodies could affect herd immunity which is the resistance to the disease among the general population to stop its spread,” he said.

“This will also have implications for the development of a vaccine. If the real virus could not induce an antibody response, the weakened version used in a vaccine may not work for some patients too,” he added.