Chinese researchers found that monkeys develop protective antibodies to coronavirus (COVID-19). This sheds a light on how our immune system can fight the novel coronavirus.
Professor Chuan Qin and his team at Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences published a paper on bioRxiv addressing this. BioRxiv is a platform for studies pending peer review.
Monkeys infected second time show high antibody levels
The researchers infected four four rhesus monkeys with the COVID-19, according to South China Morning Post (SCMP). After three days, the animals showed signs of sickness, such as fever.
On the seventh day, Qin and his team euthanized one of the monkeys and observed the virus spreading from the nose to the bladder as well as damage to lung tissues. The other three monkeys gradually recovered, showed no symptoms of the virus afterwards and eventually tested negative for the coronavirus.
About a months after the start of experiment, the researchers gave the virus through the mouth to two of the monkeys that had recovered from the virus. Their temperature increased temporarily, but they showed no other signs of infection.
When the researchers performed autopsies, they found no traces of the virus. After two weeks, they found very high antibody levels in the bodies. This suggests that the immune system had been set up to fight the disease.
Coronavirus transmission through the ocular surface
In a separate experiment, the researchers had also found out that monkeys could be infected with coronavirus through the eyes.
They dropped the virus-containing solution into the eyes of two monkeys. The next day, the monkeys showed no virus on the surface of the eyes. But a few days later, they tested positive for the virus.
Qin said the results would have “important implications in evaluating vaccine development,” given that monkeys are genetically close to humans. However, “what happens on monkeys does not always work on us,” according to a doctor at a public hospital in Beijing caring for COVID-19 patients.
Qin and his team recommend “regular hand-washing in daily life and wearing protective eyewear when in close contact with patients or in crowded places, especially for clinicians.”
Click for more advice from doctors in China in light of coronavirus.