Austrian Virologist calls for nationwide antibody study

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New findings could be generated nationwide with an antibody study without much effort: testing 5,000 people at representative locations would already be enough, said Innsbruck virologist Dorothee Von Laer in an interview in the Sunday edition of the Tiroler Tageszeitung.

“Studies on this are currently underway, and it will be possible to set a clear threshold, as with hepatitis B, for example, above which one is considered protected,” she explained. Previous studies have found “that from the World Health Organization (WHO) standardized antibody level of 100 BAU/ml (Binding Antibody Units), there is at least a high probability of protection,” Von Laer cited the current state of research.

However, approval from the ethics committee and a mandate from the federal government would be required before a nationwide study could be conducted. Von Laer also expressed his conviction that the meaningful antibody value will also find its way into the Green Passport.

Von Laer also addressed the difficulties that arise in the determination of antibodies. With vaccinated persons, on the other hand, it is often difficult to make statements about the value of the antibody titer, he said. “As we see, there are vaccine breakthroughs in the delta variant, although the titer is high,” Von Laer said in an interview with TT. Those who have undergone infection would form anti-N antibodies (against the nucleocapsid antigen) and -S antibodies (against the spike protein), as well as T cells (long-term immune response), among other antibodies. The vaccinated, on the other hand, would only produce anti-S antibodies, the scientist explained. In this way, it would be possible to find out who had already undergone corona disease.

The protection of the recovered is equal to the protection of the vaccinated, but the immune protection of the recovered is even more stable. In the case of those who have recovered, antibodies can still be detected after 18 months; after the Pfizer vaccination, the titer value drops by about six percent per month.

Booster vaccination
As far as booster vaccination is concerned, Von Laer recommended a third shot after eight months for older people and high-risk patients; she did not consider an antibody test necessary in those cases. All others, however, could wait with an antibody value above 100 BAU/ml to 150 BAU/ml, the Innsbruck physician said.

In conclusion, she renewed her appeal to citizens to get vaccinated: “If 15 to 20 percent in Austria get vaccinated now, we can declare the pandemic over, as in Denmark,” Von Laer emphasized. Then the pandemic could be over “in two or three months.

  • sources: tt.com/kurier.at/picture: pixabay.com
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