Antibodies may not provide long-term immunity from COVID-19, study claims

May 27, 2020  12:37

Researchers from the Netherlands believe that antibodies may not provide long-term immunity from COVID-19 if this new virus behaves like the other four cold-causing coronaviruses.

According to a new study, immunity can last only 6 months and up to 12 months for other coronaviruses, BGR reported.

Researchers examined the medical pictures of 10 men over 35 years to determine antibody levels for any of the four seasonal coronaviruses. The men were tested at 3 or 6 months, and the researchers discovered an “alarmingly short duration of protective immunity to coronaviruses.”

“Frequent reinfections at 12 months post-infection and substantial reduction in antibody levels as soon as 6 months post-infection” were observed for those viruses. If the new coronavirus behaves the same way, then talk of “immunity passports” and herd immunization is pointless. A person who has recovered from COVID-19 can become infected again after 6-12 months without another vaccination.

Researchers note that coronaviruses are "biologically dissimilar" and "have little in common, apart from causing the common cold."

But SARS-CoV-2 does not have to be like any of them to follow the same immunity pattern.

In previous studies, which described the so-called immunity passports in detail, it was noted that one of the main problems of this kind is that we have no idea how long the immunity to COVID-19 lasts. According to The New York Times, scientists studying this issue and comparing COVID-19 with SARS and MERS believe that immunity can last from 1 year to 8 years. However, COVID-19 has so far not lasted long to verify these versions. Other researchers have also warned that immunity to coronavirus in general may not be as lasting, suggesting that vaccine resistance may be better than surviving this disease.

Researchers note that only men are included in the group and that they were not able to sequence the virus genome during infection - factors that could affect their results. Besides, there is no indication that SARS-CoV-2 will necessarily behave like other coronaviruses.

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