CEBU

Cabaero: My antibodies

Beyond 30

SOMETIME late this month, I will take a blood test to see if I still have antibodies three months after I got sick with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Three months is the usual period for a Covid-19 survivor to retain antibodies from the time of infection but then no one can be sure of anything when it comes to the Sars-CoV-2 that causes the disease. Who knows when a survivor can develop antibodies? How long will they stay in the person? With medical experts and scientists still grappling with the intricacies of the disease, no one can confidently say a recovered person cannot be infected again.

So, don’t believe United States President Donald Trump when he said, “Remember, when you catch it, you get better, and you’re immune.” This is not true because a Covid-19 survivor may get infected again when the antibodies are gone, they’re not enough to fight an infection, or when a different strain of the virus is causing the second infection.

Antibodies are what one develops days or weeks after full recovery. There is one case of a person who developed antibodies almost a month after recovering. These antibodies will be able to remember the Sars-CoV-2 so that, if the virus enters the body again, the antibodies will know how to fight it. But if it’s a new strain of the virus or a different strain from the one that caused the first infection, then the person may get a second infection. The severity of the symptoms in a second infection would depend on the person’s immune system and general health.

A day before I ended my 10-day hospitalization for Covid-19 in late July, my immunology test result showed a “high” IGG count, meaning I have antibodies that can make me immune to the virus, unless it is of a different strain. The test was done on the 9th day of my hospitalization and on the 14th day from the onset of symptoms. I asked my pulmonologist if I could donate plasma since I have the antibodies and to help other sick people, she said I was disqualified because of other underlying medical conditions.

My IGM count at the time, however, was at a level that should eventually go down, the doctor said. The IGM is used to determine recent infection and then it becomes undetectable weeks to months following infection.

I’m anxious about taking the blood test three months after I was discharged from the hospital. Will it show I no longer have antibodies? Will it say I’m as prone to infection as the person next door?

The right way to see it, really, is that whatever the result, the antibodies are not the same as having a vaccine that could provide immunity and eventually protect the world.

I would be happy to still have antibodies, but I cannot rely on them for immunity. Pending discovery and approval of a vaccine, I will continue to trust in God as my great protector, say my prayers and wash hands often, keep a safe distance, wear a mask and face shield when going out and avoid crowded places.


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