Sunday, February 05, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Strategy to stay ahead of the virus!

It's a common occurrence these days that a rather healthy or strong person suddenly becomes sick and fall prey to a simple virus infection. Some, despite already taking the booster, are still being haunted by the virus with the malady knocking on the door whenever it wants. How many of us have seen this happen to our friends or close relatives daily?


For the virus to consistently evolve and change over time including its composition is stressful for us to discover. The fact that viruses and pathogens can change including their antibodies is not right many of us hope somebody can stop it. But in the same manner that these viruses are changing fast, why is society so slow in investigating people's immunity the same way that we investigate viruses to see how they evolve.


All I am saying here is that as we progress, we should also pay attention and should monitor our disease protection status that way we can predict in real-time that our immunity is waning and therefore can do the necessary action to boost our protection again.


Using antibody testing, for instance, to see how antibody levels change dramatically and rapidly over time and perhaps our communities can get a rough idea of which individuals are most vulnerable in the event of a virus mutation as we have seen with the coronavirus over the past period, so we prioritise them for immunisations and treatments.


Of course, when I go through several studies, I find that using antibody data to identify people at risk (and ideally vaccinate candidates) in a community is nothing new. But such a system would undoubtedly require huge financial investments and is a fact much harder than viral surveillance or investigation!


In other words, as we look to the future and look into the depths of such science, all we need to know in the future is how and whether antibody levels will decrease at all. Some individuals, including the elderly, will inevitably experience a faster slowdown than others of their antibodies, for example, however, these are the people we would like to prioritise revaccination if a new wave of cases begins to rise-as is the case with the coronavirus pandemic. Not to mention that immunological surveillance can also detect still unknown viral mutations that may lower antibody numbers. As such, close monitoring of antibody levels in a community can even tell us who doesn’t need the booster vaccine.


Here, it seems we and the communities around us are still learning about the factors that often motivate us to vaccinate again. Then we will see, as we have also seen before, how the virus mutates so quickly that we will need a reformulated shot every year. Or perhaps their development will slow and the drop in antibody levels will determine our immunisation boosters. However, I am confident that paying attention to both can help strike the right balance.


In the end, many medical institutions and laboratories globally follow how the virus changes and mutates over time. So why not monitor immunity, too? Will that future comes when our societies, in particular, adopt such a new strategy to stay one step ahead in the face of any virus... We’ll see?!


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