COVID-19 Immune response and vaccine

Ran across a troubling article that said antibodies for COVID patients faded pretty quickly. Here’s the article and the paper in Nature Medicine:

If true, this seems to have pretty serious implications for a vaccine and for so-called “herd immunity.” Am I missing something, @glipsnort?

The issues seem to be covered well here

Ah, thanks. The “missing link” seems to be my understanding of immune response. haha. From the article:

“A person with low antibody level can get reinfected but the viral load will be low, infectivity will be less and he/she may not progress to a diseased state,” says virologist Dr. Jacob John formerly with CMC Vellore. “Antibodies specific to a virus even when present in low levels will be protective against disease.”

Besides inducing neutralising antibodies, novel coronavirus has also been found to induce cellular immunity. As a result, immune system’s T cells and B cells are elevated in an infected person. “Generally, when antibody levels are high the T cells are low and vice versa,” says Dr. John.

When infected by a virus, non-specific immune response in the form of macrophages, neutrophils and other cells tend to prevent the virus from causing symptoms. Soon after, the body makes antibodies specific to the virus called the immunoglobulins — IgG and IgM, called the adaptive response. In addition, the cellular immunity kicks in when the body makes T cells that destroy cells that have been infected by the virus. The combination of adaptive response and cellular immunity “may prevent progression to severe illness or re-infection by the same virus.

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There are lots of things I’ll pretend to understand. Immunology isn’t one of them.


See this very good NY Times story, with one of our advisory board members, Angela Rasmussen, quoted extensively.


De. Birx had this to say on the topic:

So, even if they disappear fast, it is like riding a bicycle.

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Not a lot to add, but vaccines are often made in such a way as to give an enhanced response by the use of adjuvants which may help immunity. With influenza, you have to get annual immunizations not only due to a waning response, but also due to frequent emergence of new strains.

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That’s what we hope is the case for SARS-CoV-2. But we don’t know yet. Dr. Birx should have made that clear. You will see in the NY Times story, which quotes qualified scientists, that the immunologist (Yale’s Akiko Iwasaki) is concerned. I sure hope she’s wrong, but I think at this point it is not a good idea to get advice from Dr. Birx.


You don’t think Dr. Birx is a qualified scientist?

I didn’t write that, but her statements in that piece you posted are not accurate. Maybe more reasonably, her statements are too simplistic, which is perhaps what we should expect from a 2-sentence answer to a question in a newsletter. I’ll gladly revise my comment to: don’t get medical advice from 2-sentence blurbs in newsletters.

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I read the entire article, plus others.

Good, then you know that we are unsure of whether immunity lasts.

Dr. Birx, in an earlier interview that I watched, estimated the probability of immunity to be 99.9%.

That sounds like a made-up number to me since I’ve never seen it in any serious scientific discussion. Even if she said that (and I hope she didn’t), it’s just a guess.

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It was the April 1 White House briefing.

Now you know to ignore White House briefings. You should have known that a LONG time ago. Good night.

I respect Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci and don’t doubt their expertise.

I wonder if you actually trust their expertise enough to act on it.

I know that you believe that Americans in general should be allowed to not wear a mask regardless of how others around them might be affected. We have discussed this at great length, and I am not trying to discuss that legal question any further.

Nevertheless, I would expect–if you in fact do not doubt the expertise of Birx and Fauci–that you personally would adopt their strong, medically-based recommendations to wear a mask whenever you are indoors in a public setting.

Do you trust their expertise enough to wear a mask whenever you are indoors in a public setting, Vance?

I do so quite assiduously precisely because of their recommendations and because of the Second Great Commandment (“Love your neighbor as yourself”).



Chris, I think you have misunderstood my views. I believe we should obey any laws that are Constitutional, and there are a few places that have such laws on masks.

Furthermore, I believe any store should have the right to set their own requirements for entry.

Finally, when people have recommendations rather than laws, then I understand that they have a choice to make.

Thank you for clarifying your views about Constitutionality and mask laws. The reason I even mentioned the subject was to say that I did not want you to think that I was wanting to discuss that subject.

The subject I wanted to discuss, but that you have so far decided to avoid, is whether or not you really trust the expertise of Birx and Fauci enough that you personally are following their recommendations to wear a mask whenever you are in a public indoors setting.


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