Trump May Be Immune to the Coronavirus. But for How Long?
A unique treatment course may have blunted his body’s production of antibodies, scientists warn.
By Apoorva Mandavilli
After receiving a heavy infusion of monoclonal antibodies to treat his bout of Covid-19, President Trump has declared that he is immune to the virus that causes it and talked privately about wearing a Superman T-shirt under his dress shirt when he left the hospital.
Even as the president has exulted in his supposed imperviousness to the coronavirus that is resurging across parts of the country, he has delighted in portraying former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as vulnerable and cloistered, wearing masks “every time you see him.”
But even if the president were now immune to the coronavirus, he may not remain so, scientists warn. The president’s unique treatment may have prevented his body from making the antibodies necessary for long-term protection.
The monoclonal antibodies he received were produced by the drug company Regeneron and will wane in a matter of weeks, as the synthetic molecules are known to do. Without replenishment, this decline may leave Mr. Trump even more susceptible to the virus than most patients who have recovered from Covid-19, several experts warned.
Moreover, the steroid treatment the president received early in the course of his illness suppresses the body’s natural immune response, including its propensity to make antibodies of its own.
“He may be not protected the second time around, especially because he didn’t develop his own antibodies,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University.
Most people who are infected with the coronavirus produce antibodies to the virus that should protect them from a second infection. It’s unclear how long this immunity lasts; based on research into other coronaviruses, immunity may persist for up to a year, experts have said.
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