This New York Times article discusses recent research demonstrating that the majority of individuals with confirmed COVID-19 develop antibodies (proteins made by the body’s immune system to fight invading pathogens) to the causative viral agent, SARS-CoV-2. The work, performed by researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, surveyed 1,343 people, including 624 who had recovered after testing positive for the virus and 719 people who suspected they had COVID-19 but did not have a formal diagnosis. Using a highly sensitive and specific antibody test, 99% of those with confirmed COVID-19 were eventually found to have measurable antibodies, as compared to 37% of those in the “suspected” group. Importantly, individuals with mild COVID-19 symptoms were capable of mounting a robust antibody response. The presence of antibodies, however, does not prove immunity to the virus. Finally, the authors also report detection of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome in the nasopharyngeal samples from a large number of patients for weeks after symptom resolution. However, as other researchers have noted, it is unclear if this represents infectious virus. This intriguing online report awaits gold standard review by experts prior to publication in a scientific journal.
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