Two new researchers have conclusively pointed to the fact that once antibodies against the COVID-19 are formed in a body, the immune system offers protection against future infections for at least 6 months, and maybe even longer.
Encouraging results from federal researchers have now gone to show that a vaccine may after all be effective for quite some time in warding off infections once antibodies are formed. Antibodies are primarily- substances that attach to a virus and help it be eliminated. The Y-shaped protein is used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Antibodies recognize and latch onto antigens in order to remove them from the body.
And now, researchers have found that people with antibodies from natural infections were “at much lower risk … on the order of the same kind of protection you’d get from an effective vaccine,” of getting the virus again, said Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. “It’s very, very rare” to get reinfected, he said.
The studies were conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute. Both studies used two types of tests. One is a blood test for antibodies, which can linger for many months after infection, and the other type of test uses nasal or other samples to detect the virus itself or bits of it, suggesting current or recent infection.
The study published on Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine involved more than 12,500 health workers from the Oxford University Hospitals in the United Kingdom. Among the 1,265 who had coronavirus antibodies, only two had positive results on tests to detect active infection in the following six months and neither developed symptoms. This was opposed to 11,364 workers who initially did not have antibodies; 223 of them tested positive for the infection in the roughly six months that followed.
The second study, conducted by the National Cancer Institute involved more than 3 million people who had antibody tests from two private labs in the United States. Only 0.3% of those who initially had antibodies later tested positive for the coronavirus, compared with 3% of those who lacked such antibodies.
This being said, Joshua Wolf, an infectious disease specialist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis who has been observing the study impartially, has claimed “We don’t know how long-lasting this immunity is. Cases of people getting COVID-19 more than once have been confirmed, so people still need to protect themselves and others by preventing reinfection.”