COVID-19 antibodies may fade in as little as 2 months, study says – ABC News

ABC News Corona Virus Health and Science

The study’s authors say their results caution against “immunity passports.”

June 24, 2020, 10:32 AM

8 min read

As the world grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a new study suggests that antibodies — the proteins produced by the immune system that can grant protection against reinfection — may fade in as little as two months after infection in certain people who have recovered from the virus.

The study was conducted in China and published in Nature Medicine.

Specifically, the study’s authors found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms may see their antibodies fade more quickly than those who tested positive for the virus and also came down with its tell-tale symptoms.

The study, though small and with limitations, provides greater insight into a topic that mystifies scientists examining this new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Most people who have recovered from COVID-19 develop antibodies, but the extent and duration of that protection remains unknown.

Researchers from Chongqing Medical University in China compared the immune responses of 37 asymptomatic people diagnosed with COVID-19 to 37 symptomatic patients in the Wanzhou District of China. Forty percent became negative for antibodies early on in their recovery, compared to just 13% of people who developed symptoms.

The asymptomatic patients also reported lower levels of cytokines, or small proteins released by different cells in the body in response to infection. These proteins, when uncontrolled, can cause hyperinflammation.

The data suggests that asymptomatic people had a weaker immune response to the virus, echoing NIAID Director Anthony Fauci’s concerns about varying antibody protection.

“It isn’t a uniformly robust antibody response, which may be a reason why, when you look at the history of the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, the reports in the literature are that the durability of immunity that’s protective ranges from 3 to 6 months to almost always less than a year,” Fauci said in an interview with JAMA Editor-in-Chief Howard Bauchner.

The study leaves just as many questions as answers. For example, scientists still don’t know exactly what these dwindling antibody levels mean, and the lower levels don’t necessarily imply that people who have already recovered from COVID-19 will be vulnerable to reinfection within a few months.

However, the study’s authors said their results caution against “immunity passports,” or the idea that people who have recovered from infection should be granted some sort of special status to allow them to travel or return to work because they are theoretically totally immune from reinfection.

Past studies on SARS and MERS, two related coronaviruses that have led to prior outbreaks in people, have found that antibodies last for at least a year. In comparison, this study suggests that antibody levels for the new virus, SARS-CoV-2, may drop much more quickly.

“Given that antibodies are likely a component of COVID-19 protective immunity, this is important to confirm in larger studies,” said Dr. Beth Kirkpatrick, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Vermont.

Antibodies are not the only immune response the body can generate. Although the immune components that protect against COVID-19 are still unknown, Kirkpatrick said that in some infections, people can still be protected even if antibodies are undetectably low. That’s because their immune system, including the cells that produce antibodies or other parts of the immune system like T cells, carries a memory response that can be boosted rapidly.

Despite finding innate immunity in most COVID-19 patients, public health officials remain concerned about reinfection. There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection, according to the World Health Organization.

“I think that you’re going to see as the immune response wanes in these respiratory infections, there is a possibility that you could get reinfected,” said Dr. Robert Garry, professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine.

Garry cautioned, however, that it’s too soon to know what level of immunity is protective. Scientists will know more as they get closer to developing a coronavirus vaccine, but for now, it would have to provide longer-lasting immunity than a natural infection, he said.

“That’s hard to do,” said Garry.

Kirkpatrick said companies may also consider booster vaccinations, administered more frequently than might have been expected with SARS or MERS.

The mystery surrounding immunity only reinforces the urgent need for a successful vaccine. Both experts agree that more data is needed to confirm the study’s findings, but that the mere presence of antibodies may not be enough to immunize most of the population.

“Until there’s a vaccine, things are not really going to be able to be relaxed to the point where people were doing the things that they were doing before,” Garry said.

Dr. Alexis Carrington contributed to this report.

What to know about the coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
  • Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.



    372 Responses

    1. Over, it was beforehand empiric that required malar exclusively in the most suitable way grade to gain cialis online reviews in wider fluctuations, but new charge symptoms that sundry youngРІ Undivided is an rousing Compensation Harding ED mobilization; I purple this mechanism last will and testament most you to pretend supplementary whatРІs insideРІ Lems For ED While Are Digital To Lymphocyte Shacking up Acuity And Tonsillar Hypertrophy. chumba casino Zyjnuu cydrpl

    2. Hi there, I found your blog via Google whilst looking for a similar subject, your web site got here up, it looks great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
      Hello there, just became aware of your weblog via Google, and located that it is really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful in the event you continue this in future. Many other folks shall be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    3. Good day! I just would like to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent information you’ve got right here on this post. I am coming back to your website for more soon.

    4. Hello, Neat post. There is an issue along with your website in internet explorer, might test this? IE still is the market chief and a large element of other folks will leave out your fantastic writing due to this problem.

    5. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

    6. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, such as you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you simply can do with a few p.c. to drive the message house a bit, however instead of that, that is great blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

    7. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve visited this web site before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I came across it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

    8. Just wish to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your
      post is just cool and i can assume you are an expert on this
      subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab
      your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
      Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

    9. Sildenafil and Cialis are likewise used to treat pneumonic arterial high blood pressure (PAH) under the deal names Revatio (sildenafil citrate 20-mg tablets
      and 10-mg/12.5-mL single-apply phial injections)
      and Adcirca (Cialis 20-mg tablets).
      Although choice roles survive for these agents, PDE5 inhibitors for the
      handling of ED are the nidus of this reexamine.

    10. Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    11. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

    12. Howdy! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to check it
      out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to
      my followers! Fantastic blog and wonderful design and style.