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Children, adults have different types and amounts of antibodies to fight Covid-19: Study

Prashasti Awasthi | Updated on November 06, 2020 Published on November 06, 2020

Difference in amount, type set the course of recovery from the infection; determines the time needed for individual’s recovery

Mumbai, November 6

A new study by researchers at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons has revealed that children and adults produce different types and amounts of antibodies to fight the coronavirus infection.

The difference in the amount and type set the course of the recovery from the infection and determines how long the individual takes to recuperate from SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers wrote: “Our study provides an in-depth examination of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in kids, revealing a stark contrast with adults.”

Also read: Symptomatic, diabetic Covid positive children have a higher viral load: Study

Author Matteo Porotto, associate professor of viral molecular pathogenesis in Columbia’s Department of Paediatrics, said: “In kids, the infectious course is much shorter and probably not as disseminated as in adults.”

Porotto added, “Kids may clear this virus more efficiently than adults and they may not need a strong antibody immune response to get rid of it.”

SARS-CoV-2 mild in children

The researchers found that the majority of children cope well with the virus while older people struggle.

Columbia University immunologist Donna Farber said: “This is a new infection for everybody but children are uniquely adapted to see pathogens for the first time. That’s what their immune system is designed to do.”

She added: “Children have a lot of naive T cells that are able to recognise all sorts of new pathogens, whereas older people depend more on our immunological memories. We’re not as able to respond to a new pathogen as children can.”

Neutralising antibodies

The researchers wrote that since children produce fewer antibodies, they are able to recover faster. As in the case of SARS-CoV-2, more neutralising antibodies mean more inflammation and severity due to overactive immune responses.

Also read Covid-19: Asymptomatic children have low coronavirus levels compared to those with symptoms, study finds

In contrast to adults, children also produce very few antibodies against a viral protein that is only visible to the immune system after the virus infects human cells.

The authors added: “That suggests that in kids, the infection doesn’t really spread a lot and doesn’t kill a lot of their cells because children clear the natural virus rapidly; they do not have a widespread infection and they do not need a strong antibody response.”

The findings of the study were published in the journal EurekAlert!

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Published on November 06, 2020
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