A COVID scientist infected himself with the virus TWICE to study antibodies – and has concluded that the hopes for herd immunity are overblown.
Dr Alexander Chepurnov, 69, caught Covid-19 for the first time in February while skiing in France – but he reinfected himself to test if he still had antibodies.
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After returning home to Siberia when he first caught the killer virus, Dr Chepurnov and his team at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine launched a study into Covid antibodies.
He found that the antibodies decreased rapidly, reporting: “By the end of the third month from the moment I felt sick, the antibodies were no longer detected.”
To further the study, Dr Chepurnov then purposely reinfected himself with coronavirus to see if he had any immunity.
He deliberately exposed himself to patients who were positive with the virus while wearing no protection.
Dr Chepurnov said: “My body’s defences fell exactly six months after I got the first infection.
“The first sign was a sore throat.”
Unlike his first infection in February, the second was much more serious and he had to be hospitalised.
He added: “For five days, my temperature remained above 39C.
“I lost the sense of smell, my taste perception changed.
“On the sixth day of the illness, the CT scan of the lungs was clear, and three days after the scan, the X-ray showed double pneumonia.
“The virus went away rather quickly.
“After two weeks it was no longer detected in the nasopharyngeal or in other samples.”
After completing his studies, the scientist concluded that the hope of herd immunity is overblown and futile.
Immunity via vaccine or transmission may only work as a temporary block of the virus, according to the findings.
He said: “We need a vaccine that can be used multiple times, a recombinant vaccine will not suit.
“Once injected with an adenoviral vector-based vaccine, we won’t be able to repeat it because the immunity against the adenoviral carrier will keep interfering.”
This comes as Vladimir Putin boasted that a second Covid vaccine had been perfected by Russian boffins – and that a third is in the pipeline.
What is herd immunity?
Herd immunity refers to where enough people in a population have immunity to an infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading.
Herd immunity is typically best achieved with vaccination.
While the term herd immunity is widely used, it can carry a variety of meanings.
The NHS outlines “herd immunity” as when enough people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, making it more difficult for it to spread to susceptible individuals who have not yet been or cannot be vaccinated.
Academics from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine wrote that while some use the term to describe the proportion of individuals in a community who are immune to a condition, others use it in reference to “a particular threshold proportion of immune individuals that should lead to a decline in incidence of infection”.
They added: “A common implication of the term is that the risk of infection among susceptible individuals in a population is reduced by the presence and proximity of immune individuals.”
The Kremlin strongman’s haste to win the worldwide vaccine race sparked health fears after his own daughter tried the first Sputnik Five two-jab in August.
The second Russian drug produced by Vector State Research Centre – called EpiVacCorona – was licensed on September 30 and will be on sale from January 1, 2021.
It contains synthetic peptide antigens made from fragments extracted from the virus said to provoke an immune reaction.
Meanwhile, in the UK, a new major study said that Britain is “miles off” achieving herd immunity – and may never reach natural levels of protection.
Scientists at Imperial College London said immunity is “waning” and noted a 26 per cent drop in positive antibody tests in three months.
In a briefing with journalists, Professor Helen Ward, who worked on the study, said their findings suggest the UK is a “long way” from reaching herd immunity.
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She said: “Even at best, (in the first round of the study) 94 per cent of the population remained not likely protected, and now that has declined to over 95 per cent of the population who don’t have evidence of antibodies.
“So I think we are a long, long way from any idea that the population will be protected by other people.”