Increased antibody testing will give a far clearer picture of how well our resistance to Covid-19 is maintained this winter. That’s vital to help the Government avoid imposing passports, working from home and compulsory masks, says London Medical Laboratory.
Concern is growing that the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations could suddenly soar this winter. That would trigger the Government’s ‘Plan B’ response, this ‘last resort’ would include measures such as requiring people to work from home, introducing vaccine passports and reintroducing compulsory face masks.
The leading Covid-19 testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says more widespread antibody testing will flag diminishing resistance and identify many of the individuals most at risk of hospitalisation, well before the NHS finds itself under unsustainable pressure.
It will also determine whether the planned six-month gap for booster jabs is the best option for everyone, or needs to be brought forward for some people.
Says Dr Fivelman: ‘The Government’s new Plan A, which includes booster jabs for the over 50s and frontline health workers, and vaccinating 12–15-year-olds, will undoubtedly reduce hospitalisations this winter. However, to be sure to avoid the imposition of the Government’s Plan B measures, the NHS Test and Trace PCR programme needs to be supplemented with regular testing of Covid antibody levels.
‘So far, the only Government action on this has been the limited antibody testing programme introduced by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). This only gives free antibody tests to a proportion of those testing positive for Covid following a PCR test. Anyone else who wants to measure their antibody levels must still go private.
‘The best way to avoid a sudden upsurge in hospitalisations is to have a far clearer idea of how well antibody levels are holding up across the population. That means we need to increase the number of IgG (immunoglobulin G) antibody tests being carried out, and a shared database needs to be created so information from Government and private labs can be bought together.
‘Why is this vital? Antibodies don’t guarantee immunity, but a 2020 British study in healthcare workers concluded that the presence of anti-virus IgG antibodies was associated with a substantially reduced risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection in the ensuing six months.
‘Our research reveals that 1 in 100 fully vaccinated people fail to develop any antibodies at all after vaccination. That means that, even if every UK adult is vaccinated, half a million adults will have no protection whatsoever, and not even realise.
‘Of equal concern is the fact that our most recent tests are finding a growing number of people who have been jabbed now have lower values (50 to 500AU/ml) of antibodies and the clinical significance of this is still being researched. The “cut-off value” is still not known and how long protection will last is still being fully understood. If someone takes a test and their score is low, their antibody levels may have significantly declined over time, and they may be more susceptible to the virus as time passes.
‘To avoid Plan B, we need to have a far clearer idea of the speed at which antibody levels are waning. We are beginning to develop a better picture of how long they survive and what kind of protection they offer over time. Researchers in Australia have found correlations between the efficacy of flu jabs and coronavirus vaccinations. It appears probable that immunity to severe infection may be much more durable over time than overall immunity to reinfection, but that any reinfection is usually mild. The protective efficacy was found to decline by about 7% per month after the influenza vaccination. This might give some indication of how Covid-19 vaccines will perform over time.
‘It’s not only severe infections that we need to prevent. Long Covid symptoms may also put the NHS under increasing pressure. New Government data released yesterday shows the ongoing impact of Long Covid. 9.4% of people reported symptoms ranging from fevers and aches to diarrhoea, shortness of breath and loss of smell up to eight weeks after infection, with 5% still suffering some of these after 16 weeks
‘If anyone is concerned about their own immune response to the jabs and how well they continue to produce antibodies, the new generation blood tests we offer are highly accurate, quick and simple to carry out, either in their own home or at a clinic. These tests are available privately for those who don’t qualify for the Government’s new limited testing programme.
‘For the latest information about the level of protection vaccinations offer against Covid-19, see London Medical Laboratory’s new White Paper at: https://www.privatecoronavirustests.com/page/vaccine-immunity