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'Fragile and short-lived': experts doubt the reliability of immunity to coronavirus

The British immunologist warned that relying on immunity to COVID-19 as a strategy to deal with the pandemic is "an unsafe bet", adding that herd immunity strategies "will probably never work," writes CNBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

On July 6, Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said that in cities and towns where cases of coronavirus infection have been reported, only 10-15% of the population is likely to be immune.

“And the immunity to this virus looks pretty fragile - it looks like some people may have antibodies for a few months and then they may weaken, so it's not a safe bet,” he said. "It is a very cunning virus and the immunity to it is very confusing and rather short."

He also raised questions about the possible success of so-called herd immunity - when some exposure of a population to the virus is allowed to form immunity in the general population. This argument was cited by representatives of the health system in Sweden, where quarantine was not introduced.

On the subject: Scientists have managed to create a vaccine against COVID-19, which has proven efficacy in two phases of trials

Despite the worldwide race to search for a vaccine against coronavirus, experts are still not sure whether the antibodies present in people who have survived the virus provide immunity to reinfection.

In June, White House chief health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that if COVID-19 behaves like other coronaviruses, “there will probably be no lasting immunity” from antibodies or vaccines. Meanwhile, the WHO said that it remains unclear whether people will be able to become infected again.

On July 6, Altmann said he expects a second wave of COVID-19 and that the situation remains “very, very dire,” although the world's governments are now much better prepared for the resurgence of infections than they were at the start of the pandemic.

“Anyone who thinks the virus has weakened or disappeared, or that the problem will solve itself, is self-deceiving,” he said. - It is still a very deadly virus, it infects people very, very quickly. And I think that humanity is not used to dealing with such a reality. "

He also emphasized that it is difficult to make predictions as to whether an effective COVID-19 vaccine can be determined.

“The devil is in the details, vaccines are not easy,” Altmann said. “More than 100 vaccines are currently being tested, and a lot can go wrong. I'm not betting now. ”

Altmann said many scientists, immunologists and vaccine specialists are still “very scared” of the pandemic.

On the subject: Coronavirus immunity passports: why are they needed and how can they harm society

He acknowledged that politicians need to strike a balance between protecting public health and preventing socio-economic disasters, but added: “We must continue to be guided by science and medicine and do the right thing. That means all you can do to block the transmission of the virus. ”

According to Johns Hopkins University on July 7, a new strain of coronavirus, first reported to WHO at the end of December, has already infected more than 11,6 million people and killed at least 539 people worldwide.

Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhan Gebreisus last week warned that the global pandemic is accelerating when the economy begins to reopen.

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