A pilot study conducted on 20 volunteers has shown that the first dose of coronavirus vaccine helps develop antibodies among Covid-19 recovered persons faster compared to those people who never contracted the virus.
The research highlights the role and benefits of natural antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid.
The study has established that if a recovered person loses his antibodies after a few months of recovery, his memory cells help produce faster immunity in case of reinfection.
Gyaneshwar Chaubey, a professor of genetics at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) selected 20 volunteers and divided them into two groups, each of 10 participants with an age variation of 42-82 years.
“The first group had people who were infected and recovered from SARS-CoV-2 and the second group of volunteers were those who had never contracted the virus,” Prof Chaubey said.
Participants of both the groups received the first shot of the Covishield vaccine and from the very first week, Prof Chaubey’s team started monitoring the antibodies present in their systems.
“We found that all 10 people who had recovered from Covid-19 have developed detectable antibodies within eight to ten days from the day of immunization. In fact, three participants developed antibodies within seven days” Prof Chaubey said.
“On the other hand, the non-infected group i.e naive people took 3-4 weeks to develop the antibodies,” he said.
Prof Chaubey‘s study is consistent with the views of many noted epidemiologists and doctors who believe that natural immunity can provide longer protection against Covid-19 and such people don’t need to be vaccinated.
Outlook had earlier spoken to experts like noted epidemiologist Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil; Dr Sanjay Rai, President, Indian Public Health Association (IPHA) and vaccine scientist, Dr. Anuradha Dube from the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, and all of them hold the same view that natural antibodies work better than artificial ones acquired through a vaccine.
“In case of diseases like chickenpox, the natural antibodies produced can provide life-long immunity, while vaccines don't provide the same type of immunity,” Dr Muliyil had said adding that “In case of measles, both natural immunity and the one acquired through vaccines, have an equal lifespan.”
Reiterating his previous stand, Dr Rai, said that all studies done and published in reputed journals have established that people who have recovered from Covid-19 acquire a longer immunity.
“It is a known fact that natural antibody lasts longer and provides better immunity. We are wasting vaccines by vaccinating those who have recovered from Covid-19,” Dr Rai said.
Prof Chaubey‘s research proves that those who were earlier recovered from Covid-19 took just less than 8 days to develop their antibodies.
Sadly, government research bodies like Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) have not made public any study on the severity of disease in reinfected Covid-19 patients.
Experts feel that if government research focuses on this crucial aspect and if it can be proved that reinfection doesn't cause any severity among the Covid-19 recovered people, they can be excluded from the current vaccination drive and these can be used on needy ones.
Since over 1.66 crore people have recovered from Covid-19 in India, the government can save over 3 crore doses.
India is struggling to vaccinate its 70-80 crore population as the two local Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing companies – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech-- have limited production capacity.
Further, prof Chaubey suggests many people in India are asymptotic and they recovered from the infection without their knowledge.
“But it will be hard and expensive to test and segregate them and instead a uniform vaccination drive is needed. But even if we are able to establish one dose is good enough for known Covid-19 recovered people to provide protection, it saves 1.66 crore doses,” he said.