The antibodies that the immune system develops to combat the new coronavirus They could last only a few months in people with mild illness, but that doesn’t mean that protection also wears off or that it won’t be possible to develop an effective vaccine, according to a new study.
“Infection with this coronavirus does not necessarily create lifelong immunity,” but antibodies are only part of the story, said Dr. Buddy Creech, a disease specialist. infectious from Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the study that was published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The immune system remembers how to make antibodies if necessary and other parts of it can also launch an attack, he added.
Antibodies are protein that the white blood cells (B lymphocytes) develop to trap the virus and help remove it. The former are quite rudimentary, but as the infection continues, the immune system trains to focus its attack and develop more precise antibodies.
Dr. Otto Yang and others from the University of California, Los Angeles campus, measured these most accurate antibodies in 30 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 and four people who lived with them and allegedly had the disease. Their average age was 43 years and most had mild symptoms.
The researchers found that the antibodies had a half-life of 73 days, which means that half of them would disappear after that time. It agrees with a previous report from China that also indicates that the antibodies disappear quickly.
The results “ask to be cautious about antibody-based ‘immunity passports’, collective immunity and perhaps vaccine durability,” the California scientists wrote.
That’s true, Creech said, but other parts of the immune system also help provide protection. In addition to producing antibodies, B lymphocytes develop memory to know how to do it again if necessary.
Other white blood cells, T lymphocytes, will also be better at attacking the virus the next time they see it, Creech said.