the pathogen currently turning the world upside down is called a novel coronavirus because it is literally new novel humans have never encountered it before we have no immunity to it and that is why it's so serious and why it's been able to ravage the planet but the human body is amazing right when we are exposed to a virus like Ovid 19 we create something called antibodies to help fight it off and that builds immunity against the virus and those antibodies they stick around for a long time in the blood plasma of people who are able to recover once a person has the antibodies they may actually be able to donate their plasma to help others as treatment for people who are still sick or is the basis perhaps for vaccine for more on how antibodies can help fight this I want to bring in dr.
Peter Hotez professor and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine co-director the Texas Children's Hospital Center for vaccine development so let's let's just begin with the basics here dr.
about antibodies and immunity it seems there were some early I so reporting early on one or two cases in hongkong maybe people getting infected twice but it seems from what I've read the bulk of evidence suggests people get it once they build up the antibodies and are then essentially immune is that is that correct that's right and there's precedent for that with other human respiratory virus infections what happens is after you are infected with the the SARS 2 virus which is the other name for the virus agent of kovat 19 you develop an antibody response around 10 to 14 days after infection that doesn't necessarily mean you're immune but there's now been studies in rhesus macaques done in China non-human primates showing that they develop similar antibody responses and the scientists are unable to reinfect them with the virus so there's indirect evidence that that indeed does confer immunity the question is going to be how long does it last and there's some evidence from the previous SARS so this one as SARS to the previous SARS back in 2003 that that neutralizing antibodies we call it can last at least two years possibly even much longer so if people have antibodies so from a sort of epidemiological perspective mark Lipset talking about one of the great unknown questions right is what percentage of the population is getting this and being totally subclinical and totally asymptomatic or very very mild which means how many people are out there with the antibodies I've seen reporting that several different enterprises are attempting an antibody test that would essentially test people how would that work well it's the and we have a lot of precedent for that for measuring antibodies to lots of different infectious agent and it's an indication of past exposure so what we say is if we know the percentage of the community that's that's been exposed to this viruses and as antibodies that we call that the seroprevalence the percentage of people that have been infected and exposed to the virus and therefore we know how much transmission there has been in the community and it's a it's a very old standard method for that infectious disease experts and epidemiologists use and in terms of old standards I was fascinated to see the use of plasma plasma donations and plasma in treating patients from people that have gone through the illness and have antibodies dates way back to in fact was used as a method in the 1918 flu pandemic itself what is the thinking there how much do we know about the efficacy of that I know that there are New York City hospitals already taking blood donations from folks that have have have been through Kovan well there's a lot of old evidence going back a hundred years but more recently again after that first SARS virus infection in 2003 a number where studies of number of studies were done looking to see if you could transfer the plasma containing the antibodies from recovered patients what you do is you take out their blood give them back their red blood cells extract out the plasma component that has high levels of antibodies select only the the patients that have high levels of antibodies and then give that as a therapy and it's been shown in a nice paper a few years after the SARS epidemic in 2003 that it seems to work and now there's a new study that just came out of China it's more of an anecdote around five patients that it's to be working so you know I have a lot of enthusiasm a number of my colleagues have a lot of enthusiasm that this could be the first treatment that we have for seriously ill patients with one catch and that is you generally have to give that antibody treatment pretty early if you wait till patients are very sick in the ICU it may be too late so the earlier you can give it the better so then it's a matter of can we scale this up and a number of us have been on the phone with the Food and Drug Administration there's a branch called the Center for biologics Evaluation research led by a wonderful guy named dr.
Peter marks who's been really on top of this together with a lot of heads of academic health centers to build this ecosystem where you can identify patients take their antibody and then process it in the transfusion lab the blood bank lab and then give it back to two individuals and it's a matter of whether we can do that at scale it's not easy to mass-produced in time there will be more commercial therapies available of hyper immune globulin with containing this antibody but for now we think it has some real hope for for patients well that is a hopeful note dr.
Peter Hotez always a pleasure thank you so much your time really appreciate it.