THE news that people who have had Covid-19 and have recovered may not be immune to a second infection of the superbug, will come as a shock to those who thought they were now immune
King’s College London researchers have found that antibodies peaked up to three weeks after the onset of the symptoms of the coronavirus before declining.
This means that coronavirus immunity may only last a few months, not (as has been assumed), forever in the same way as most other viruses and bacteriological diseases.
The researchers looked into the immune response of 90 patients and healthcare workers at top London hospitals, Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Trust, and found that the antibodies required to fight off the virus built up and peaked after about three months, however after that, the antibody numbers went into decline, opening up a window for the virus to attack again.
In the first study of its kind the results were startling finding that the longevity of the antibodies in both symptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals who had been infected by Covid-19, was only around 60 days after the onset of symptoms.
Antibodies are the main defence against the infection, and without them there is a significantly higher chance of becoming re-infected.
Don’t despair though, studies have shown that should you become re-infected the chances are in most cases, very high that you will only suffer low or mild symptoms.
Dr James Gill, honorary clinical lecturer at Warwick Medical School, and a locum GP said he has had several patients “so relieved” to find that they have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies.
So for at least the immediate future even if you have had Covid-19, please continue with a sanitiser regime, wash your hands frequently, and follow the protocols, as if you have never had the virus.
Why Covid-19 immunity only lasts for such a short time is of course unknown. Further studies with more recovered patients and asymptomatic individuals followed over longer time periods will be needed to answer that question.