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Strength of COVID-19 antibodies depends on age and sex, study finds

A new study reveals your gender and age determines how strong antibody levels are after receiving two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute, in collaboration with the University of Verona, Italy, found antibodies peak higher for women and children than men and individuals over the age of 65.

Study participants under the age of 65 were found to have more than twice the level of antibodies than those above the threshold.

However, the study, which is deemed to be the largest study in the world on the prevalence of antibodies over time, also showed levels dropped by 50 percent within six months for everyone – regardless of age or gender.

 

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute, in collaboration with the University of Verona, Italy, found antibodies peak higher for women and children than men and individuals over the age of 65

Brandon Michael Henry, MD, a physician scientist and postdoctoral researcher at Texas Biomed who co-led the study, said in a statement: ‘While we see how well vaccines have helped keep people out of the hospital and prevent life-threatening disease, antibody levels are quickly declining in all persons regardless of age and sex.

‘Our study provides additional evidence that booster shots for all adults will be important to keep antibody levels up so we can continue to mount an effective immune response against COVID-19 infection and prevent COVID-19 fatalities.’

The findings are based on a group of 787 healthcare workers in Italy, ranging in ages 21 to 75, who received two doses of the vaccine.

Researchers measured antibody levels in study subjects before vaccination, after the second dose and at one, three and six months after the second shot.

Study participants under the age of 65 were found to have more than twice the level of antibodies than those above the threshold

Study participants under the age of 65 were found to have more than twice the level of antibodies than those above the threshold

The team theorizes the difference shown among genders is due to hormones in the body – specifically testosterone in men.

According to the press release, testosterone ‘naturally suppresses the immune system, whereas estrogen, which is higher in women, is known to amplify immune responses.’

Also, some genes that code for certain immune proteins are on the X chromosome, and since women have two X chromosomes, this might help increase immune activity.

‘Normally, only one X chromosome is active and the other is mostly deactivated, but there is evidence that immune-related genes stay active on that redundant chromosome and help boost immune responses in women,’ Henry said.

Henry has also led systematic reviews that show similar results for age and gender. 

He and colleagues developed a method to standardize research results for antibody levels, by looking at the percentage change in antibody levels, across 32 studies encompassing more than 5,000 people.

‘We have observed throughout the pandemic more older people and men suffer the worst consequences of COVID-19,’ Henry said. 

‘These studies point to weaker immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.’

Henry stressed that the decline in antibody level does not mean that the vaccines are not effective.

And notes that as ‘antibodies continue to decline with time, booster doses can help maintain adequate levels of these lifesaving antibodies,’ he shared in a statement.

The study comes just as the world faces a new coronavirus variant that the World Health Organization (WHO) says poses a ‘very high’ global risk.’

The team theorizes the difference shown among genders is due to hormones in the body – specifically testosterone in men. According to the press release, testosterone 'naturally suppresses the immune system

The team theorizes the difference shown among genders is due to hormones in the body – specifically testosterone in men. According to the press release, testosterone ‘naturally suppresses the immune system

The new variant, named Omicron, was first identified in South Africa last week, but has since made its way to parts of Europe and North America.

Omicron is the most-mutated form of COVID yet found and has been declared a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO because early data suggests it is more infectious than the Delta strain. 

President Joe Biden on Monday urged Americans to get vaccinated or get their booster shots amid warnings about the spread of the Omicron variant – but insisted that the infectious new variant was not a cause for ‘panic’ and said no new restrictions were needed.

‘We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion,’ Biden said at the White House.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk