During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have had their reservations about assessing levels of immunity in patients via the use of standard antibody tests.
However, new Israeli research shows that the outcome of these tests can actually be a reliable indicator of COVID immunity levels.
According to scientists who conducted the study, these tests could come in handy for allocating the first batches of the upgraded coronavirus vaccine, when they eventually come.
Current antibody assessment
Before this, scientists assessed the protection levels against the coronavirus based on the antibodies for which blood levels are measured to check for neutralizing antibodies that attack SARS-CoV-2.
This measurement is difficult to conduct and needs a costly and specialized lab process that can take a few days, thereby making it unsuitable for widespread use.
There are other general antibody tests that use kits for quick processing and don’t cost more than a couple of dollars. They measure the Immunoglobulin G (IGG) antibodies present in blood.
These have been used by medical professionals to give answers about whether a person has recovered from COVID-19, or has been vaccinated, or not.
However, it has not been used to assess what kind of protection the people may have. It has only been assumed that it gives an idea of immunity levels, but there has not been any confirmation.
According to a team of Israeli epidemiologists, immunologists and other researchers, they have found a way to confirm it.
Lior Nesher, Ran Taube and Tomer Hertz are the three professors from Ben Gurion University who led the study and they have published their results online, which are not peer-reviewed as yet.
According to Hertz, they had managed to identify antibody markers that are capable of predicting the risk of infection enough to come up with a system of assessing them based on antibodies.
He said that before this, it was not possible to assume that antibody tests could indicate the risk of infection reliably, but the study’s results show that good quality test kits can be used.
Scientists had hoped during the pandemic that the IGG levels, which can be measured easily, could indicate the antibody power of the body against the virus.
However, this had been difficult to prove because it required people who had had their antibodies checked, which could then be tracked for identifying infection patterns.
High level of infections were a must for the statistics to be relied upon.
The coronavirus wave in Israel during the winter season gave Hertz’s team this opportunity. They got samples of 608 adults and 239 of them were infected in the first follow-up.
The team discovered a clear correlation between levels of IGG and infection and also documented how doctors can read the results to predict the risk of infection.
According to Hertz, they had a huge sample size and this helped them in finding the correlation between the infection risks and the antibody levels that are identified through a simple test.
He said that this can be extremely useful, especially with new variants being discovered.