Coronavirus Pandemic

UAE Covid vaccine: Who needs to take antibody tests

SM Ayaz Zakir/Dubai
Filed on May 28, 2021
Photo: AFP

Health expert advises people who have been vaccinated or have had Covid-19 infection previously to get an antibody test done

The UAE recently approved booster shots of the Sinopharm vaccine, six months after residents received their second dose. The additional dose helps boost immunity and produce antibodies to ward off the virus.

Health experts have advised residents, especially the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, to get an antibody test done after getting the jab.

Dr Hasaf Kolakkadan, specialist pathologist, Aster Diagnostic Centre, Sharjah said: “Anyone who is vaccinated or has had a Covid-19 infection previously can get an antibody test done. Ideally, high-risk people like the elderly or patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, kidney ailments etc should get it done.”

Testing should be ideally done three to four weeks after the second dose of the vaccine or two to three weeks after recovering from Covid-19, he said.

Dr Gunjan Mahajan, specialist clinical pathologist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai explained how Covid vaccines produce antibodies.

“These are known as anti-S or anti-spike antibodies. Also, they develop neutralising antibodies, which represent the first line of defence against the infection by blocking the virus from binding to the host cells, and as a result, inhibits viral propagation.”

>> What are antibodies?

Antibodies are protein components of the immune system that circulate in the blood, recognise foreign substances like bacteria and viruses, and neutralize them. As the foreign substances (antigen) enter our body, antibodies continue to circulate in the blood, providing protection against future exposures to that antigen.

Health expert say that there are two types of antibodies – one, which are naturally produced antibodies when the body gets infected with the disease and the other way to acquire antibodies is through vaccines.

An antibody test costs around Dh95.

>> How can you increase antibodies in your blood?

Antibody development takes few days to few weeks to fully develop. So, if antibody levels are low, doctor’s advise people to get a repeat test done after a gap of 3-4 weeks. A booster shot is required in accordance with the health care regulations of the respective Emirate if the count remains low.

“The test for these antibodies can be done after 3-4 weeks of receiving the second dose of the vaccine. Patients having a low antibody response can receive a booster dose after discussion with the physician,” Dr. Gunjan said.

Vaccinated individuals can check their antibody levels to see their immunity response. Medicos suggest anti-spike antibody tests to determine the count post vaccination which are found to be more accurate.

The studies indicating durability of the antibody response against these vaccines are still ongoing, but they do indicate waning of antibodies over time.

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