Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) and colleagues reported in Science two studies of laboratory monkeys that suggest antibodies produced during recovery from COVID-19 provide immunity from the virus, whether triggered by infection or vaccine.
WCVB – May 21, 2020
Beth Israel anti-body testing provides new insight and hope in coronavirus fight
BOSTON (WHDH) – As economies continue to reopen worldwide, people are wondering if they will be safe from the virus.
New anti-body testing from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center could provide crucial information about immunity for people who have contracted and recovered from the virus.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Dr. Dan Barouch who is heading up two promising studies at the hospital said.
His team has infected lab monkeys with COVID-19 and found that the monkeys developed protective antibodies after recovering.
“We then re-exposed them to COVID-19 for a second time and the animals were protected,” he explained. “So, this data demonstrates that there is indeed natural protective immunity to this virus.”
In a second study, the team injected monkeys with a prototype vaccine created for lab use only.
Those monkeys also became immune to the virus.
So, what does that mean for humans?
“The implication for humans needs to be very cautious because this was an animal study,” Barouch said. “But, it raises the possibility that natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity may exist in humans as well.”
Barouch said that he believes this research — which was been published in a scientific journal on Wednesday — provides new insight and hope for the coming days.
More importantly, it will be useful in developing an effective vaccine.
“I’ve never seen the scientific community sharing data so openly and collaborating more. Because ultimately, we’re all in this together, and we all want the same goal, which is to end this pandemic,” he said.
According to Barouch, the studies did not address how long COVID immunity could last.
But, he said he hopes the future work of his team and others will answer that question.