A groundbreaking study conducted by scientists from India’s Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), a government-run institute, has unveiled a concerning connection between Covid-19 antibodies and the severity of dengue, a prevalent vector-borne disease in the country. The study, titled “SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies Cross-react and Enhance Dengue Infection,” was published on the preprint server for medical sciences, bioRxiv.
The study, the first of its kind, demonstrated that antibodies acquired from natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans or through experimental immunization in animals could cross-react with Dengue Virus Serotype 2 (DENV-2). This cross-reactivity significantly enhanced dengue infection in animal cells through a mechanism known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). ADE allows antibodies from a previous infection to facilitate a virus’s entry into cells, leading to a more severe infection than the virus would cause on its own.
Implications for Vaccine Development and Dengue Management
These findings have far-reaching implications for regions where both Covid-19 and dengue are endemic. The study raises crucial questions about the development and deployment of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, particularly in areas prone to dengue outbreaks. Scientists emphasize the urgency of monitoring and investigating this scientific suggestion closely.
Rising Dengue Cases
Dengue, transmitted primarily by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, has seen a concerning uptick in cases across India. Typically associated with post-monsoon periods, dengue is now being reported throughout the year, causing severe cases, including dengue hemorrhagic fever. Until September 17 this year, 94,198 dengue cases have been reported, resulting in 91 fatalities, according to data from the Directorate General of Health Services.
Expert Insights and Call for Further Research
Experts, including Dr. Kiran G. Kulirankal, assistant professor at Amrita Hospital, Kochi, highlight the need for extensive research to understand the intricate interactions between Covid-19 and dengue. A phenomenon like ADE, witnessed in both viral infections, might explain the surge in severe dengue cases in the post-Covid era. Dr. Vikas Maurya, director and head of pulmonology at Fortis Hospital, stresses the importance of scientific endeavors to decipher the correlation between these diseases better.
Urgent Action Required
As the scientific community grapples with these findings, urgent action is necessary to adapt healthcare guidelines and research endeavors. The government and healthcare authorities must collaborate closely to address this emerging challenge effectively. Continued research, public awareness, and swift response strategies are essential to mitigate the impact of this alarming revelation on public health.