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Antibody tests can help reveal who has been infected with the coronavirus, but the tests don’t say whether the antibodies protect against future infections, Erin Garcia de Jesus reported in “So many questions on antibody testing” (SN: 6/6/20, p. 22).
Reader Bob Reckers asked if antibodies for cold-causing coronaviruses, which are detectable by the coronavirus antibody tests, could bind to the coronavirus. “This could explain the wide variations in severity of COVID‑19 infections,” he wrote. “People who recently had a (cold) … might have some level of protection.”
Antibodies produced in reaction to some colds certainly could bind to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, says Garcia de Jesus. But those antibodies don’t appear to last long. It’s unclear whether antibodies from a recent cold would offer protection or worsen COVID-19 symptoms, she says. For dengue viruses, antibodies sometimes can lead to severe symptoms. When people who have had dengue are infected with a different strain, antibodies from the previous infection help the new virus invade cells, putting those people at higher risk for severe symptoms. “There’s no evidence in people either way for COVID-19, and not enough time has passed for researchers to fully study this …
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