New research released Wednesday is expected to provide comfort to covid-19 survivors worried about losing their natural coronavirus immunity soon. The findings suggest that in most people, a robust immune response to the virus lasts at least eight months, and there is good signs that could last for years.
There have been concerns about decreased immunity since almost the start of the pandemic. Related coronaviruses causing the common cold people are known to often reinfect people and are missing There have been reports of covid-19 reinfection in 2020. Some studies had even suggested that levels of antibodies to the virus may significantly decrease by three months.
On the other hand, immunity is a complicated mess. Antibodies aren’t the only source of immunity we get against germs like the coronavirus. IS, at least so far, confirmed reports of reinfection still seem rare. This new study, published in Science, it appears to provide the most up-to-date look at how our immune responses to the virus change over time, and the verdict is largely positive.
The scientists studied the blood of 180 volunteers who had confirmed covid-19, including from samples taken more than six months after infection. Levels of antibodies to the virus dropped slightly after infection but afterwards it remained stable up to eight months in most people. Virus-specific T lymphocytes also declined slightly after three months, but thereafter remained at stable levels again. Meanwhile, memory B cells, which help the immune system wake up in response to a familiar threat and create more antibodies when needed, were actually more abundant at six.mark of the month versus a month. This is particularly encouraging, because these B cells are crucial for long-term immunity, one that lasts for years.
The results do not directly show that our immunity to covid-19 will last absolutely for eight months and more. Scientists are still trying to understand how these immune responses in the body translate into protection in the real world. But all in all, 95% of the people in the study had some level of immune memory in their antibodies, B cells., and T cells to virus five to eight months after the onset of symptoms. This indicates, the authors wrote, that “lasting immunity against secondary covid-19 disease is a possibility in most individuals.”
Antibodies tend to be the most important part of immunity in preventing reinfection with germs. This and other research has shown that our coronavirus antibody levels can vary substantially from person to person. So this could explain why some people got reinfected in such a short time, with some cases that appears only three months later. But as the experts noted, the other remaining aspects of our immunity should usually protect people from more serious illnesses if they are infected a second time.
That said, the current pandemic situation is still very bad, with daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States a disk-tall levels. Iit will take longer to understand other important questions, such as how long the immunity provided by the vaccine will last. But in a sea of bad news, at least there is some hope to hold on to.
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