Saturday, November 7, 2020

The Latest on Kids’ Antibodies - The New York Times

The Latest on Kids’ Antibodies - The New York Times
The Latest on Kids’ Antibodies
A new study might shed light on why children experience the virus differently.

A study published Thursday found that children infected with the coronavirus produce fewer and weaker antibodies than adults.

Although that finding sounds scary, it actually may help answer longstanding questions about why children have a different experience with the virus than adults.

“We know that kids are much less likely to get sick from the coronavirus,” said Apoorva Mandavilli, who covered the study. “This study says they produce a less robust immune response to the virus, which, paradoxically, may be a good thing.”

There are three possible reasons:

First, fewer antibodies may indicate that children were sick for a shorter period of time. (Generally, the longer you are sick, the more antibodies you produce.) Their weaker antibodies may indicate that children vanquish the virus before it has had a chance to wreak havoc in their bodies.

Second, fewer antibodies may also explain why children seem to transmit the virus less efficiently. If they have fewer antibodies, it may mean that they have had lower levels of the virus.

“Having a ton of antibody isn’t necessarily a marker of a good thing,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “It usually means that something went wrong early in the response.”

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Third, a weak immune response may shed light on why children are mostly spared severe symptoms. Other studies have suggested that an overly strong immune response may be to blame in people who get severely ill or die from Covid-19. A human body can harm itself in its attack of a foreign pathogen, like the virus.

Some experts urged caution in interpreting results, especially since the study was small, and samples were collected only at a single point in time. Also, children already have a more powerful inborn immune system than adults, so their bodies might just be better at swatting away diseases. CONTINUE READING: The Latest on Kids’ Antibodies - The New York Times