Dengue fever antibodies might contribute to Thailand’s low Covid-19 count

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Antibodies from dengue fever might raise immunity against Covid-19, according to study done in Brazil. It suggests a correlation between the mosquito transmitted illness and the coronavirus, citing lower Covid-19 cases in areas with past dengue outbreaks, like south east Asia. Thai doctor Manoon Leechawengwongs says this might be why Thailand has significantly less Covid-19 cases than other countries around the world.

Since the start of the outbreak, many scientists have been confused by south east Asia’s generally low infection rate and posited various theories about some local “immunity”.

Thailand has more than 100,000 dengue patients every year, he says, adding that many locals take the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis to prevent dengue. There have been 3,545 Covid-19 cases in Thailand with 59 deaths and 3,369 recoveries.

Duke University professor Miguel Nicolelis led the study and recently spoke to Reuters reporters about his findings. He says the study first focused on the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil and they came across the correlation between dengue and the coronavirus by accident. The study says areas in Brazil with high numbers of dengue infections had a comparatively low number Covid-19 cases while areas with low numbers of dengue cases had a high number of Covid-19 cases.

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“This striking finding raises the intriguing possibility of an immunological cross-reactivity between dengue’s Flavivirus serotypes and SARS-CoV-2 … If proven correct, this hypothesis could mean that dengue infection or immunization with an efficacious and safe dengue vaccine could produce some level of immunological protection (against the coronavirus).”

Miguel adds past studies found that those with dengue antibodies can falsely test positive for Covid-19.

“This indicates that there is an immunological interaction between two viruses that nobody could have expected, because the two viruses are from completely different families.”

The study was posted on MedRxiv, but has not yet been peer reviewed. Manoon warns that Thai people should still abide by coronavirus prevention measures to prevent a possible second wave.

Click HERE to read the study on how dengue fever may have influenced the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil.

SOURCES: Reuters | Nation Thailand |Worldometer

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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