Two studies on monkeys published on Wednesday offer some of the first scientific evidence that survival of COVID-19 can lead to immunity to re-infection. This is a positive sign that vaccines in development could be successful, US researchers said on Wednesday.
Although scientists have assumed that antibodies produced in response to the new corona virus are protective, there is little scientific evidence to support this.
In one of the new studies, the researchers infected nine monkeys with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. After recovering, the team exposed them to the virus again and the animals did not get sick.
The results suggest that they "develop a natural immunity that protects against re-exposure," said Dr. Dan Barouch, a researcher at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at the Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center at Harvard in Boston, whose studies have been published online on the journal Science.
"It is very good news," said Barouch.
Several research teams have published articles – many of which have not been reviewed by other scientists – that indicate that a vaccine against the virus would be effective in animals.
In the second study, Barouch and colleagues tested 25 monkeys with six prototype vaccines to determine whether the antibodies produced as a response were protective.
They then released these monkeys and 10 control animals into SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the novel corona virus.
All control animals showed a high level of virus in the nose and lungs, but "we saw significant protection in the vaccinated animals," said Barouch. Eight of the vaccinated animals were fully protected.
These peer-review studies don't prove that people develop immunity or how long it could last, but they're reassuring.
"This data is seen as a welcome scientific advance," said Barouch.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)