My COVID-19 antibodies are still in my blood, but does it matter?

What we do and don't know about immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines

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by Ed Tobias |

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It’s been almost two and a half years since my first COVID-19 vaccine — eight months since my most recent booster — and my COVID-19 antibodies seem to still be doing their thing. I know this because, after having nine test tubes of blood drawn, the lab results are back and I’m looking good — a robust antibody response.

The lab work was part of the COVER-MS study, run by the iConquerMS research group. The study is analyzing the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), including which reactions were most common and who was most likely to experience them. So far, more than 1,600 people have participated, and I’m one of them.

About 300 of us are in a subgroup that donates blood samples every six months for two years to check our antibody levels and measure our immune response to COVID-19 vaccines. Antibodies are proteins in the blood that will fight SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. And I have them — a lot of them.

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Let’s talk facts about MS and COVID-19 vaccines

My test results were positive

Two blood tests were run. One looked for the presence of IgG antibodies, which would indicate a recent or prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. That test was positive, as it should’ve been, because I had a mild case of COVID-19 in February. The other test measured the level of antibodies that would be in my bloodstream either due to a prior SARS-CoV2 infection or as the result of a COVID-19 vaccination. A reading of 1 or greater is positive. My level, two weeks ago, was above 100, indicating a robust vaccine response, even though it’s been eight months since I received my last COVID-19 booster. That was the same level as when I was tested back in October.

I was also tested in June 2021 by my neurologist. At that time, I’d only received two COVID-19 shots, and my test showed a level of a whopping 2,500 units per milliliter (U/mL). According to my test report from LabCorp, a result of 0.8 U/mL or higher indicates the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

How much of this matters?

As far as I can tell, my antibody levels have been high since I received my first vaccination. But it’s not known how long a COVID-19 vaccination is effective. It’s also not known how robust is really robust.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the tests I’ve had can help identify people who may have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, but they can’t tell if you have any protection against becoming infected. That’s the same thing the FDA was telling people two years ago! By now, you’d think they’d have a better idea.

What’s next for me?

I just had my yearly physical with my primary care physician (PCP). A week earlier, I had my annual visit with my neurologist. My neuro thinks herd immunity has finally taken hold, protecting us naturally. She says it’s up to me to decide whether another booster would be beneficial. My PCP agrees about herd immunity and suggests that, even though I qualify for one, I should put off getting another booster until fall, when I could get it at the same time as my annual flu shot. By then, she says, a booster should be available covering the newest SARS-CoV-2 virus strains. I think I’ll follow that advice.

Coincidentally, a group of MS experts in Europe this month issued a list of more than 50 guidelines on how people with MS can safely and effectively receive all kinds of vaccines. The MS News Today story about this notes that “vaccines are not linked to an increased relapse or disability progression risk in MS patients, regardless of DMT [disease-modifying therapy] use, and ‘the benefit of immunization greatly outweighs any potential risks.'”

That’s my nonexpert opinion, too.

You’re invited to add your thoughts about this below and also to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Laurie Warner avatar

Laurie Warner

Hi Ed!
I am in the same iConquerMS study, but my antibodies are nonexistent. I am on Ocrevus, so the result was expected. I will probably get the booster in the fall anyway because you just never know if it may help. I have not had Covid yet, I have been careful and getting my boosters. Good for you that the Covid vaccine is working for you.

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Leanne Broughton avatar

Leanne Broughton

Hopefully the Covid vaccine and flu vaccine are together in one dose.

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Anne avatar

Anne

I want to participate in Research re: Having Long Covid complications w/a past hx of Cancer and living w/MS and Fibromyalgia. My health is declining. Doctors have no answers for me! I am extremely fatigued. Chronic Pain is increasing and I am getting depressed with the Loss of Time in my Life!

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Lisa avatar

Lisa

Thanks for the update. I’ll be getting my booster in the Fall too.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hey Lisa -

I had no doubt you would. :-)

Ed

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Marguerite Westfall avatar

Marguerite Westfall

peer-reviewed
journal Vaccines

5/17/23

“Increased IgG4 synthesis due to repeated mRNA vaccination with high antigen concentrations may also cause autoimmune diseases, and promote cancer growth and autoimmune myocarditis in susceptible individuals”

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-393X/11/5/991

5/17/23
“In addition, this immune suppression could allow the re-activation of latent viral, bacterial, or fungal infections and might also allow the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells”https://www.mdpi.com/2076-393X/11/5/991

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Marguerite Westfall avatar

Marguerite Westfall

https://www.mdpi.com/2076-393X/11/5/991

May 17, 2023
REPEATED VACCINATION with mRNA therapy destroys the immune system..especially for the most VULNERABLE 👇👇👇 IgG4 MATTERS
IMMUNO-TOLERANCE MATTERS

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