Coronavirus, immunity, illness, Coronavirus immunity

Mild coronavirus illness may confer some immunity: study

Story by AFP

Even people with minor illness from the coronavirus can develop antibodies that could leave them immunised for several weeks or more, according to an early French study that tested hospital staff with mild infections.

Researchers said the results, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, were “encouraging” since little is known about the mechanisms of immunity against the novel coronavirus, especially in people with minor forms of the disease.

“We knew that people with severe forms of the disease developed antibodies within 15 days of the onset of symptoms,” said Arnaud Fontanet, head of the global health department at the Institut Pasteur, which conducted the research with the University Hospital in Strasbourg.

“We now know that this is also true for those who develop minor forms, even if the rates of antibodies are probably weaker.” The study was carried out on 160 members of staff at two hospital sites in Strasbourg who had all tested positive for Covid-19 and suffered mild forms of the disease.

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The researchers said in a statement on Tuesday that the neutralising activity of the antibodies appeared to increase over time.

Olivier Schwartz, head of Pasteur’s virus and immunity unit, said the objective would now be to monitor the “persistence of the antibody response and their capacity to neutralise” the virus over the longer term.

Over 5.5 million cases reported across the world

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 346,296 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources.

At least 5,507,700 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,176,600 are now considered recovered. The US is the worst-hit country with 98,223 deaths from 1,662,768 cases. At least 379,157 people have been declared recovered. After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Britain with 36,914 deaths from 261,184 cases, Italy with 32,877 from 230,158 cases, France at 28,457 deaths and 182,942 cases and Spain with 26,834 deaths and 235,400 cases. China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 4,634 deaths and 82,992 cases. It has 78,277 recovered cases. Europe overall has 172,890 deaths from 2,048,424 cases, the United States and Canada have 104,860 deaths from 1,748,479 infections, Latin America and the Caribbean 41,590 deaths from 770,283 cases, Asia 14,478 deaths from 464,814 cases, the Middle East 8,871 deaths from 351,114 cases, Africa 3,477 deaths from 116,099 cases, and Oceania 130 deaths from 8,491 cases.

As gyms and swimming pools reopened in Germany, Iceland, Italy and Spain, slowing infection rates in Greece allowed restaurants to resume business a week ahead of schedule — but only for outdoor service.

“I’m thrilled to break the isolation of recent months and reconnect with friends,” said pensioner Giorgos Karavatsanis.

“The cafe in Greece has a social dimension, it’s where the heart of the district beats.” But not all the news from Europe was encouraging.

Sweden, which has gained international attention for not enforcing stay-at-home measures, saw its Covid-19 death toll pass 4,000, a much higher figure than its neighbours.

In Russia, the government announced on Tuesday that at least 101 medics had died from coronavirus, while an online tally compiled by doctors gives a far higher figure.

“Last Friday 101 people were on the confirmed list,” senior health ministry official Lyudmila Letnikova told lawmakers, Interfax news agency reported.

The head of the ministry’s public health department told the parliamentary health committee that the ministry keeps a register of deaths of medical personnel, but this is the first time a figure has been given publicly.

Letnikova said the ministry had asked Russian regions to provide death counts.

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