What is increasingly evident is that there is still much for the scientific and medical communities to learn about this new Covid-19 virus. As new discoveries are made, Better2Know will seek to bring this information to our patients enabling you to make well informed decisions about your testing requirements.
Symptomatic vs Asymptomatic Covid-19 Patients
Researchers estimate that between 18-30% of people with Covid-19 are asymptomatic, meaning that they show no symptoms. Although there is yet no confirmed explanation for this, scientists have suggested several theories as to why this may be.
Firstly, it is thought that some people have a stronger innate immune response, allowing them to keep the virus under control. A person’s innate immune system describes their general ability to fight external and internal threats to the body. The adaptive immune system, on the other hand, is composed of antibodies which target Covid-19 specifically.
Alternatively, another theory suggests that individuals encounter varying levels of viral load. Higher exposure to Covid-19 may lead to higher levels of the virus circulating in the body and the development of worse symptoms.
Whilst we know so far that underlying health conditions affecting the immune system strongly indicate a person’s level of risk, further research is currently underway to investigate additional biomarkers which might be able to predict how well a person can fight Covid-19.
Recent research from Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center has found important discoveries surrounding the immune response in patients who have recovered from mild Covid-19. These findings may aid prevention and treatment of Covid-19, namely vaccine development and antibody therapy, whilst contributing towards timely and sensitive testing methods.
The study found that many participants had high levels of neutralising antibodies (NAbs) specific to Covid-19. However, 30% of patients did not have high levels of Covid-19 specific antibodies and, in ten patients, NAbs were not detectable at all. This suggests that other antibodies and immune system factors may have contributed towards recovery in these patients.
For patients who did develop Covid-19 specific NAbs, this occurred during the early stage of infection. However, despite varying levels of NAbs, the duration of disease was similar amongst all patients. The research also found that elderly patients had a higher level of Covid-19 specific antibodies, suggesting a stronger adaptive immune response compared to younger patients.
Antibody testing for Covid-19 clearly has an important place in managing this pandemic. It is starting to appear that the immune responses of different individuals to the infection may also differ, meaning test results need to be interpreted in the context of the individual's clinical history and care taken with decisions regarding possible future immunity to Covid-19.
Further Links to Important Articles:
World Health Organisation: Immunity and Antibodies
World Health Organisation: 'Steroid should be kept for serious coronavirus cases'