Immunity of Covid-19 patients does not last long, shows a new study

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on October 26, 2020

This may force the government to rethink their vaccination strategies as over 80 per cent Covid-19 infections are either asymptomatic or mild.

In a study that may have severe implications on efforts to design an effective Covid-19 vaccine, a team of researchers in the UK on Monday found that the body’s immune response to SARS-CoV2 wanes in three months if the infection was mild.

The study, which followed antibody response of 59 patients and 37 healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London for 94 days, found that the immune response depends on the severity of the infection.

They may force governments to redraw their vaccination strategy as more than 80 per cent of Covid-19 infections are either asymptomatic or mild.

It found that people who experience more severe Covid-19 disease may be protected for more extended periods than people who experience milder symptoms. The study carried out by researchers led by Katie Doores of King’s College London appeared in the journal Nature Microbiology on Monday.


Although people infected with SARS-CoV-2 generate an immune response to the virus, the duration of the response is uncertain, and it has been unclear how long individuals will be protected for,” the researchers said.

They found that in an acute viral infection, the antibody response peaked at around one month after the onset of symptoms, before starting to decline.

People with severe disease generated the most potent antibody response, and although this response diminished, neutralizing antibodies were still detectable more than 60 days after symptoms began.

People with the milder disease also generated an immune response, but it was smaller and declined towards baseline levels. Some healthcare workers, for example, had no detectable immune response within the follow-up period, the scientists said.

More importantly, the findings indicated that vaccines may need to generate a robust and long-lasting immune response akin to that generated in severely ill patients and that boosters may be required to provide long-lasting protection.

Published on October 26, 2020

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