21st May 2020
Two different studies in monkeys indicate the first scientific evidence that some immunity may be developed by COVID-19 survivors.
In one of the studies, nine monkeys were infected with COVID-19 by researchers, and when they were exposed to the virus again after they recovered, the primates did not become ill again.
"It may suggest that they do develop a natural immunity that protects against re-exposure," says Dr. Dan Barouch, a researcher at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston.
A second study conducted by Dr. Barouch and his team injected 25 monkeys with 6 prototype vaccines to see if the antibodies produced by the vaccine's immunity response were protective. They then exposed the monkeys and 10 other control animals to SARS-CoV-2.
As anticipated, all of the control animals developed the virus in their nostrils and airways whilst Barouch noted "a substantial degree of protection" in some of the vaccinated animals. Eight of the vaccinated animals were completely protected from infection.
Whilst the peer-reviewed studies do not suggest or prove that humans would develop immunity, the implication that immunity from reinfection is possible is assuring to the scientific community.
Meanwhile, in the southernmost point in Africa, South Africa, COVID-19 survivors are donating blood to be used in various clinical trials. The South African National Blood Service reports that about 30 donors will be supplying blood to the study determined to observe whether plasma separated from blood would be useful in developing treatment against the virus.
"Those people who have been cured and have recovered from the coronavirus have developed an immune system response because they got infected, got better and their body was able to remove the virus and heal them. So they’ll look at the antibodies that the body makes to see what the nature of the antibodies is so that any new medicines can target and try to create that degree of immunity to people that have not been infected," says The deputy dean of the Faculty of Health at the University of North West, Professor Andrew Robinson.