This Rare Trait Could Keep You Safe From COVID, According to Doctors
Do you have extreme protection from coronavirus in your blood?
There are few things more coveted amid the pandemic than having immunity to COVID. Of course, there are few ways of acquiring immunity—either getting the vaccine or recovering from the virus. And when it comes to the latter, immunity doesn't last past a few months for most people, but there are some notable exceptions. Doctors have identified patients who had COVID—some without knowing it—and came out on the other side with super antibodies that provide much longer lasting protection. Keep reading to learn about the powerful immunity that could be lurking in your blood, and for more on coronavirus protection, If You Have One of These Blood Types, You May Be Safe From COVID.
Super antibodies are found in a small percentage of the population.
"In rare cases, some people produce super antibodies. These super antibodies block infections," explains Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health advisor for Invigor Medical. "Learning more about these antibodies can help researchers develop better vaccines and artificial antibodies."
Super antibodies neutralize the virus. As Lance Liotta, MD, a George Mason University pathologist and bioengineer, told NBC, these antibodies provide protection even when diluted 10,000 times. They are far more potent than the general antibodies most people get after having COVID, but they're also relatively uncommon. A June study published in Nature concluded that super antibodies were found in less than 5 percent of people who have had COVID.
It's even possible to develop super antibodies from a coronavirus case you didn't know you had. Liotta is studying one patient, John Hollis, who never knew he was sick and now has immunity to the virus. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Super antibodies can help researchers study potential COVID treatments.
"Through John and others, we have been propelled into exciting new science," Liotta told NBC. "Learning about his antibodies offers us new ways to fight COVID."
Using the antibodies Hollis and other patients like him carry, experts will be able to "understand exponentially better how to kill the coronavirus and mass-produce antibodies," Liotta explained. These produced antibodies could be used to protect people who fall severely ill with COVID.
As Pierre Vigilance, MD, an adjunct professor of health policy and management at George Washington University School of Public Health, told NBC, the fact that super antibodies are so rare make them extra important to study and learn how to replicate. And for more immediate ways to keep yourself healthy, The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks.
They can also potentially help develop stronger vaccines.
Learning how to create antibodies that mirror those found in these select patients isn't just useful for the treatment of severe COVID—it could also help with prevention. "It's up to scientists to isolate these neutralizing antibodies and replicate them in large numbers for more effective vaccine development," says Sean Marchese, RN, an oncology writer at The Mesothelioma Center. Simply put, "a better antibody will create a better vaccine." And for more on the coronavirus vaccine, learn The Biggest Mistake You Can Make After Getting Vaccinated, Experts Warn.
And super antibodies could work against various strains of COVID.
The super antibodies Hollis has have proven to be effective in killing six different strains of the coronavirus, Liotta said. Liotta's team is studying seven other people with these antibodies, but Hollis' antibodies seem to be the strongest so far. These super antibodies have maintained at least 90 percent of their strength nine months after he had COVID, while other similar antibodies tend to dissipate around 60 to 90 days. And for more on the future of the pandemic, The New CDC Director Just Issued This Very Dark COVID Warning.