Corona: high antibody level protected against infection in Delta

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“How high does my antibody level need to be protected from Corona infection?” – This is a question many people must have asked themselves in recent years.

Scientists at Meduni Innsbruck have now confirmed that there is indeed a connection between the number of antibodies and protection against infection. Nevertheless, there is no clear statement regarding how high this value must be with Omicron. This is according to an interview published by APA.

After the South African variant broke out in the Tyrolean district of Schwaz last spring, a particular vaccination campaign followed. Three-quarters of the people living in the community were vaccinated with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine at the same time. Researchers from the Institute of Virology and the Clinical Epidemiology Team at the Medical University of Innsbruck conducted a study to investigate how many people still suffered an infection after the second vaccination. The focus was on how the immune response – in the form of antibodies and cellular immunity – can protect against disease, explained epidemiologist Peter Willeit.

“People who developed higher antibody levels after vaccination had higher protection,” Willeit and his co-author, virologist Wegene Borena, summed up. The scientist explained this with an example: “If you were between 2,000 and 3,000 (BAU/ml, Binding Antibody Units, note), the incidence was halved; if you were above 3,000, the incidence was only one-fifth.” These findings may be essential for prediction and modeling, Willeit said.

“For age and sex, we didn’t see a significant difference in who went through infection despite vaccination,” noted virologist Borena. She cautioned that these findings relate only to the delta variant. She said that higher antibody levels are needed to prevent infection despite vaccination in the omicron variant. “If the study had gone from November to March, we would have a different report,” she acknowledged.

Willeit recalled that the National Immunization Panel (NIG) clearly states that “an antibody determination to detect undetected immunity should not be used to decide whether to vaccinate.” This is different for immunocompromised people or people with immune deficiency after vaccination. Here it makes sense to look at “where this person stands.“ But the three vaccinations are “recommended regardless.”

Vaccination offered good protection

Their study once again showed that vaccination protects against infection or severe disease courses for the two researchers. Of 2,760 people who participated, 68 had an infection despite vaccination. Three-quarters of them had symptoms but a mild period. One person required hospital care, and no one died with or from disease.

The study was divided into three parts: At the beginning – about five weeks after the second vaccination – a questionnaire was used to determine whether people had had vaccination reactions or had already experienced an infection. Then a blood sample was taken to test whether someone already had antibodies. In the third part, the people, who were 47 years old, took an antigen test or, if possible, a PCR test every week for six months to detect asymptomatic infections. Last but not least, antibody tests were done again.

The study has been published on a preprint server (before peer review). For Willeit and Borena, the willingness of the population to participate in such a study was surprisingly high. It was also the strength of this study that it was not a pivotal study, but was conducted in the population “from real life, so to speak,” they said.

  • source: k.at/picture: pixabay.com
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