With the virus spreading at an increasingly alarming rate, there may seem to be no end in sight. Although there are no definitive answers to a cure, progress has been made. Researchers and scientists also know a lot more about the virus.
Aside from promising vaccine trials, there is also new information about how the virus spreads, who is most vulnerable, as well as, whether or not a person is immune once they have had the virus.
A new vaccine that is currently being used in clinical trials is the most promising vaccine to-date. The vaccine is being developed by Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Of all trials to-date, this particular vaccine has shown more promising results than others. In the first phase safety study consisting of 45 participants, all vaccinated individuals produced immune proteins. Immune proteins are antibodies that can block the infection by triggering an immune response.
The studies’ next phase is set to expand the study to 30,000 participants in late July. Of the original 45, some participants suffered from mild side effects while 3 participants experienced worse complications – including a high fever.
Despite side effects, each of the participants produced the antibodies. Production of antibodies is the desired result of any vaccine.
A blood test can be done to determine if you’ve had a past infection of SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes coronavirus (COVID-19). Although it can tell you if your body has produced antibodies, it cannot tell you if you are currently infected.
What researchers are still trying to figure out is how long antibodies last. Unlike vaccines developed for diseases like chickenpox or having the chickenpox, vaccinations, or having the coronavirus may not create lasting immunity.
After a person contracts the virus, antibodies may be present for several weeks. During that time they may provide the person some immunity, but early studies suggest they may not last longterm.
In a study published in Nature Medicine, antibodies only lasted two to three months – especially in people who were asymptomatic. This does not mean those individuals can be infected again, but it does suggest that it is possible.
While new information and medications are being developed, the best way to protect yourself is still entirely up to you. Wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands regularly are the only scientifically proven ways to best protect yourself.