By now almost everyone is familiar with the term “antibodies”. This is one benefit of the pandemic, it has made us all familiar with medical terms. Just in case you missed the memo, antibodies are molecules in our blood which the body uses to combat infections. These are the bullets put out by our immune system that have various infections as their targets. They may defend us against infections with bacteria and fungus, and most recently we have learned that they defend us against the pandemic virus COVID-19 or, more correctly put, SARS-CoV-2.
The antibodies that we make naturally to the COVID infection are different in some ways to the ones induced by the vaccines. The ones induced by the vaccines target specific places on the so-called “spike proteins”. I know that most of you have seen the pictures of the COVID virus and recognize what I am talking about. Naturally occurring antibodies produced by immune systems that have actually been infected by the virus produce an array of antibodies to many different parts of the virus.
Here is where it gets complicated. The virus can mutate and change its spike protein, making it harder to kill, but some parts of the spike protein seem to always remain the same. Antibodies to these parts may be effective for all variants. If we can harness the power of our own immune system to produce these super-antibodies with vaccines, we may be able to prevent all new variant infections.