A professor who infected himself with coronavirus for a second time to study the effectiveness of antibodies says hopes for herd immunity are overblown.
Dr Alexander Chepurnov, 69, caught Covid-19 for the first time in February during a skiing trip in France.
After recovering in his home of Siberia without needing to go to hospital, he decided to reinfect himself to test his immunity.
His team at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Novosibirsk studied ‘the way antibodies behaved, how strong they were, and how long they stayed in the body’.
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Scientists found the Covid-19 fighting cells decreased rapidly. Dr Chepurnov added: ‘By the end of the third month from the moment I felt sick, the antibodies were no longer detected.’
He then decided to expose himself to patients with the virus while wearing no mask to assess the likelihood of reinfection.
Dr Chepurnov said: ‘My body’s defences fell exactly six months after I got the first infection. The first sign was a sore throat.’
His second infection was far more severe and required him to go to hospital.
The scientist added: ‘For five days, my temperature remained above 39C. I lost the sense of smell, my taste perception changed.
‘On the sixth day of the illness, the CT scan of the lungs was clear, and three days after the scan, the X-ray showed double pneumonia.’
‘The virus went away rather quickly. After two weeks it was no longer detected in the nasopharyngeal or in other samples.’
Following the study, Dr Chepurnov concluded that hopes of beating the pandemic through herd immunity are overblown, the Siberian Times reports.
He added: ‘We need a vaccine that can be used multiple times, a recombinant vaccine will not suit.
‘Once injected with an adenoviral vector-based vaccine, we won’t be able to repeat it because the immunity against the adenoviral carrier will keep interfering.’
Dr Chepurnov previously worked at the State Research Vector Centre of Virology and Biotechnology in Siberia, where scientists are developing Russia’s second coronavirus vaccine, known as EpiVacCorona.
Its makers say it will require repeated doses in order to maintain immunity.
The Sputnik V vaccine is already being given to essential workers, but safety concerns have been raised among the international community as it was approved before the completion of phase 3 trials.
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