Covid-19: New variants outsmart antibodies

KUALA LUMPUR: As the Coronavirus that causes Covid-19 mutates constantly, the antibodies the body produces to prevent reinfections become less effective.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the virus that caused Covid-19, known as SARS-CoV-2, is a RNA virus that constantly evolves to create new variants.

As such, he said, the antibodies produced in a patient's body would start to wane within a certain duration after infection.

"Depending on a person's immune system, an individual infected with Covid-19 will generate antibodies to fight off the infection. However, the virus that causes Covid-19 regularly mutates to produce new variants.

"So, the antibodies triggered by earlier infections caused by older variants will be less effective compared to newer variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in our surroundings," he told Berita Harian.

Based on the KKMNow website, the total number of active Covid-19 cases in the country was 26,578 currently, including 1,671 new cases that were recorded yesterday. In October, the Health Ministry had warned that Malaysia would face a small wave of XBB, a subvariant of Omicron, that could push daily cases by 3,000 to 5,000 infections in the coming weeks.

Recently, Mail Online also reported that a team of researchers in China had discovered a new virus, similar to Covid-19, in bats in the southern part of the country, that could potentially infect humans and livestock.

The researchers in China took samples from 149 bats which comprised 15 species from the Yunnan region and found five concerning new viruses. One of the viruses, known as BtSY2, shared some similarities with SARS-CoV-2.

Dr Noor Hisham advised people to get their booster shots to ensure that their antibody levels can be increased again. This, he said, could also lower the risk of severe Covid-19 infections.

"Practice a safe and healthy lifestyle to avoid Covid-19 infections," he said.

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