Good news: The majority of people who have become ill with mild COVID-19 are likely to have antibodies that last for life.
As time goes by, the unknowns about the duration of immunity in people who have been infected with COVID-19 or have already been vaccinated, they begin to be elucidated. A study from the University of Washington School of Medicine provides new evidence suggesting that protection after illness can be long-term and stay for the rest of life.
The study analyzed the immune response of 77 people who had mild or moderate COVID-19, of which only 6 required hospitalization. Through blood tests collected every three months, he found that most maintained long-lived plasma cells housed in the bone marrow, a set of key cells in the immune system, capable of remembering past infections and making new antibodies long after the first immune response after an initial infection.
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Ali Ellebedy, an immunologist specializing in molecular microbiology and lead author of the study, explains that during the previous fall, reports that antibodies declined markedly after a couple of months of infection were misinterpreted by the press and the idea that acquired immunity became popular with the general public.
The decrease in antibodies approximately 4 months after infection is completely normal and recognized by science; However, the long-term immune response requires another class of cells, capable of remembering the virus and, above all, of coordinating and enhancing the production of new antibodies.
“In the study we found antibody-producing cells in people 11 months after the first symptoms. These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity, ”explains Ellebedy.
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These cells are kept in the bone marrow secreting antibodies and are partially responsible for long-term immunity to various diseases. Hence, some of them can last a lifetime and protect people who have previously fallen ill from COVID-19.
The study also suggests that asymptomatic people may possess long-lasting immunity thanks to the same mechanism; However, it is not yet clear whether they develop the same immune response as those with mild or moderate COVID-19.
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