Covid-19: “The disease may not be immunizing”

About coronavirus, there are things that we know, and things that we do not know, explained Sunday evening April 19, Professor Florence Ader, infectiologist and pulmonologist at the Croix-Rousse hospital of the Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL ). Invited to make a presentation during the press point by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of Health Olivier Véran, this specialist, who notably coordinates the Discovery clinical trial, launched in several European countries under the aegis of Inserm to identify the best treatments with Covid-19, detailed the known information, but also the “Uncertainties” which remain on the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.

We know the structure of the virus, and its genome, made public at the start of the pandemic by Chinese laboratories, said the infectiologist. We know its attachment receptors, which is important for understanding how it works and working on appropriate therapies. We are also familiar with the clinical descriptions of the Covid-19 disease it generates, its chronology, as well as the stages of the immune response – by means of antibodies – that the affected patient generates.

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Significant uncertainties

However, there are still some obscure points, insisted Florence Ader. In particular, the scientific community does not know how to explain the disparities in response by gender: why are women much less affected than men? The exact causes of the low impact of this disease on children are unknown. We also do not know how to identify the determinants that cause serious forms of Covid-19, or explain its epidemiological disparities.

Finally, and more worryingly still, there is no guarantee at this stage that curing the disease prevents it from being re-infected. “The disease is a priori perhaps not immunizing”said Florence Ader, adding that it was a question that was difficult to answer at this stage. A healed person is therefore not sure that they have generated antibodies at a level that will prevent them from falling ill again if they come across the virus again.

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