Levels of coronavirus antibodies decrease very quickly as people recover from the disease, according to a study conducted in Britain involving 365,000 randomly selected people from the country. The group of researchers at Imperial College London found that people having antibodies to the virus decreased by nearly 26% in around 4 months. According to them the immunity to the virus is decreasing, which increases the risk of catching the virus more than once.
Antibodies are produced by the body to fight against the viruses and the one and only type of antibody that the study included is Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, which according to the study decreased very quickly among the people tested after they recovered from the virus. However, according to some other researches, other types of coronavirus antibodies may stay longer than IgG.
The study also confirmed that people who were mildly infected or who showed no symptoms of the virus are more likely to lose coronavirus antibodies more quickly than people who were severely infected. The study was published by Ipsos MORI, which is a market research company, and Imperial College London. The researchers reported that when the study was started in June around 6 in 100 people who were tested had IgG antibodies, however, when the people were tested in September only around 4 in 100 had the IgG antibodies. Moreover, these antibodies remained the same in health care workers.
The researchers wrote that they have observed a big decline in the percentage of the population who had detectable coronavirus antibodies and who were tested for antibodies in the 12th, 18th, and 24th weeks after the 1st period of peak infections in the UK. They also wrote that the findings are not new and are consistent with the evidence regarding the previous coronaviruses as in those viruses the immunity decreased within a period of 6 months to a year.
Coronavirus antibodies deteriorated in younger people slowly than people who were 75 years old or older after recovering from the virus, according to the researchers. There is still a lot to know if antibodies provide any immunity to the coronavirus or how long people are immune from reinfection. Infections such as measles are known to cause sterilizing immunity, meaning that people who are infected once have detectable antibodies years after getting infected.
Regarding coronavirus, scientists don’t know much. It is also not clear that if the body’s memory response and T cell immunity to coronavirus will provide any sort of protection to a person in case of reinfection. Scientists need to research more to understand better the risks posed by coronavirus reinfection.
The REACT-2 study has some limits as the test samples were not of the same people and were taken from different people across the UK over a period of time. It’s very much a possibility that people who were tested positive for the virus didn’t take part in the study over time and that may have impacted the results.
Lord James Bethell, the UK’s Minister of Health said that the study is a critical piece of research that will help in informing the UK government on what measures should be taken to curb the spread of the virus. He added that the most important thing is that people should know what this study means and that if a person is tested positive for antibodies, he doesn’t become immune to the disease.
Regardless of if you are tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, you should continue to comply with the basic safety precautions against the coronavirus which involves wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, and practice social distancing.