Scientists in Israel claim they may have found antibodies that can fight all known COVID-19 strains, eliminating the need for vaccine booster shots.
The peer-reviewed study was led by Tel Aviv University researcher Dr. Natalia Freund and published in Nature’s Communications Biology section, and found antibodies that could be used to concoct an antibody infusion. Since the start of the pandemic, some monoclonal antibody treatments have been approved and used to treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.
A preliminary study carried out by Freund’s team in October 2020 sequenced B immune system cells from Israeli patients who recovered from the original COVID-19 strain. They then isolated nine antibodies that the patients produced of which two have been found to show efficacy in neutralizing other COVID-19 variants, including Omicron and Delta, according to a press release.
“In the previous study, we showed that the various antibodies that are formed in response to infection with the original virus are directed against different sites of the virus,” said Freund on Wednesday. “The most effective antibodies were those that bound to the virus’s ‘spike’ protein, in the same place where the spike binds the cellular receptor ACE2.”
The new study found that two antibodies, TAU-1109 and TAU-2310, bind to the COVID-19 virus’s spike protein “in a different area from the region where most of the antibodies were concentrated until now,” Freund said.
According to the study’s findings, these antibodies are “actually very effective” in suppressing the Omicron and Delta variants, she said.
The first antibody neutralized Omicron with a 92 percent efficacy and neutralized Delta at 90 percent, the study found. The second antibody, meanwhile, neutralized Delta at a 97 percent rate and Omicron with an efficacy of 84 percent.
After the antibodies were cloned at the Tel Aviv University laboratory, they were used to test against live viruses in lab cultures at research facilities in California and Israel, researchers said.
“The results were identical and equally encouraging in both tests,” the press release said.
About a week ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorization to include updated booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. It’s the first time updated COVID-19 booster shots have been given emergency use authorization so far in the U.S.
Freund argued that it’s more prudent to invest in antibody treatment regimens because studies have shown that COVID-19 antibodies, including those from vaccines, significantly wane after about three months.
“In our view, targeted treatment with antibodies and their delivery to the body in high concentrations can serve as an effective substitute for repeated boosters, especially for at-risk populations and those with weakened immune systems. COVID-19 infection can cause serious illness, and we know that providing antibodies in the first days following infection can stop the spread of the virus,” Freund said.
“It is, therefore, possible that by using effective antibody treatment, we will not have to provide booster doses to the entire population every time there is a new variant,” Freund concluded.