May 22, 2020

HMM: A new Swedish coronavirus antibody study suggests the herd-immunity strategy isn’t working. “The study, based on 1,100 tests across Sweden and carried out by the country’s public-health agency, found that just 7.3% of people in Stockholm had developed antibodies, Reuters reported on Wednesday.”

Doesn’t this also suggest that it’s not as contagious as feared? Plus:

Tom Britton, a professor who helped develop the agency’s forecasting model, acknowledged that the calculations may have been wrong.

“It means either the calculations made by the agency and myself are quite wrong, which is possible, but if that’s the case it’s surprising they are so wrong,” he told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, according to The Guardian. “Or more people have been infected than developed antibodies.”

Britton had previously suggested that about half of the country could become infected by the end of April.

His honesty here is refreshing and unusual. One hypothesis: Most people defeat the disease swiftly via the innate immune system, before there’s even time to build antibodies. Are those people immune to reinfection? I’d guess probably — maybe in some sense they were already “immune” since their bodies were capable of fighting it off quickly without illness — but who knows?

UPDATE: I had linked this report a while back, but a commenter reminded me: T cells found in COVID-19 patients ‘bode well’ for long-term immunity. “Immune warriors known as T cells help us fight some viruses, but their importance for battling SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been unclear. Now, two studies reveal infected people harbor T cells that target the virus—and may help them recover. Both studies also found some people never infected with SARS-CoV-2 have these cellular defenses, most likely because they were previously infected with other coronaviruses.”

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