Case study offers new evidence that antibodies thwart COVID-19

A new case study detailing COVID-19's spread on a fishing vessel this spring offers the first piece of direct evidence that antibodies can protect humans from the virus, reports The New York Times.

The ship left Seattle in May and spent 18 days at sea, during which more than 100 crew members contracted COVID-19. Three crew members who already had antibodies to the virus did not get sick. 

"A lot of people, when they see this, are like, 'Oh come on, it could be due to random chance,'" Alexander Greninger, MD, PhD, a virologist at Seattle-based University of Washington, told the Times. However, the likelihood that these results are due to chance is extremely low, he said.

The findings, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, have stirred excitement among the scientific community. While past studies show COVID-19 exposure triggers a robust immune response in most humans, this is the first report to add more information about the amount of antibodies needed to offer protection. 

Two of the sailors had only moderate quantities of titers — a measure used to indicate the concentration of antibodies in the blood. The case study suggests that even moderate titers could prevent reinfection in humans facing high exposure to the virus. 

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