Last week, news articles around the world excitedly reported the first case of a vaccinated mother giving birth to a child with COVID-19 antibodies.
The Colorado-based woman, who was vaccinated with her first dose of the Moderna vaccine at 36 weeks, gave birth to a healthy baby girl three weeks after. It was through the baby’s umbilical cord blood that researchers were able to detect the presence of antibodies.
According to a paper presented by the doctors at the time of birth, the discovery of antibodies in the infant provided potential for future protection and reduction of infection risk from Sars-CoV-2 through maternal vaccination.
While the claim has yet to be peer-reviewed, the news brings hope during a time when coronavirus has devastated several countries and crippled economies across the globe.
In the past, antibodies from vaccines have been able to be passed off from mother to baby after birth, as seen in the case of the flu and TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccines.
These antibodies can be passed on through breast milk or in utero through the umbilical cord. While this is known, there are still several factors to consider when talking about COVID-19 antibodies for newborns.
Firstly, it is still unknown for how long these COVID-19 antibodies can provide protection for the infant. Researchers must also determine how much protection the antibodies can give as well as how many antibodies infants need to avoid infection.
Nonetheless, the presence of antibodies in the infant body will warrant protection for the first few months of life. The infant, however, will eventually have to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the future, similar to the routine flu shots and DTaP vaccines.
Now, further research is being conducted on maternal vaccinations and their impact on newborns. Moderna is currently heading a study on the dosage and efficacy of the vaccine on children aged 6 months to 11 years; the results of the study will provide much needed information on the effects of vaccines for younger individuals.
For now, small triumphs can be celebrated in the birth of this first infant with antibodies. With the amount of research being conducted, it is hopeful that many more children will gain protection from the virus.