People who have recovered from COVID-19 and gained immunity to the disease could lose it again within months, a new study from the UK suggests.
According to the research by a team from King’s College London, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) could reinfect people year after year, much like common colds.
Having studied the immune responses of more than 90 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust, the researchers found that COVID-19 antibody levels peaked about three weeks after the onset of symptoms.
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Blood tests revealed that while 60% of COVID-19 patients displayed a “potent” antibody response at the height of their battle with the disease, this figure fell to just 17% three months later. In some cases, antibody levels became undetectable.
The findings of the study have implications when it comes to developing a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as achieving greater herd immunity.
The bottom line is that if antibody levels drop over time and people are able to be reinfected seasonally, a vaccine would not actually provide any long-term benefits.
Speaking about the findings of the study, Dr Katie Doores, lead author from King’s College London, said: “People are producing a reasonable antibody response to the virus, but it’s waning over a short period of time and depending on how high your peak is, that determines how long the antibodies are staying around.”