(ORDO NEWS) — Concerns that our immune systems might quickly forget about encountering the SARS-CoV-2 virus are becoming increasingly unfounded as an Australian study showed that immunity can still elicit strong resistance eight months after infection.
This is good news for those concerned that COVID-19 vaccines will not provide the protection period needed to manage the spread of the virus in the population.
“It was a black cloud hovering over the potential protection that any COVID-19 vaccine could provide, and gives real hope that once a vaccine or vaccines are developed, they will provide long-term protection,” says an immunologist at Monash Menno University. van Zelm.
While it is too early to say how long immunity to this particular coronavirus may last, we can be confident that time will be on our side.
In a collaboration between Monash University, Alfred Hospital and the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, the researchers analyzed blood samples taken from 25 volunteers diagnosed with COVID-19.
Each sample represented a snapshot of the state of the immune system from four days after infection to eight months.
COVID-positive samples suggest that SARS-CoV-2 free-floating antibody concentrations begin to disappear just 20 days after symptom onset, which is consistent with previous studies suggesting antibody levels drop rapidly, especially in mild cases of COVID-19.
While this in itself is not surprising, it has raised confusion among immunologists as to whether a wave of re-infections should be expected in the coming years.
Antibodies are like bullets for the immune system, allowing it to easily attack criminals who dare to show their faces again.
To see if an immune system familiar with COVID has enough B cells to do the job after just a few months, the researchers injected fluorescently labeled SARS-CoV-2 pieces into blood samples once infected with the virus.
The analysis not only revealed a significant reaction in each of the COVID-19 blood samples, but also allowed the team to determine which types of B cells respond to a particular part of the virus’s body.
“These results are important because they clearly show that patients infected with the COVID-19 virus do retain immunity against the virus and disease,” says van Selm.
And since the proteins analyzed in the study are considered prime targets, we can expect most vaccines to also provide good immunity for at least eight months.
For the pandemic to be brought under control, if not eradicated entirely, we will need at least 70 percent of the population to be immune within the same period of time. Only then can we be sure that the virus can simply disappear.
Now we can be sure that this window is eight months wide. Let’s hope that’s enough.
Contact us: [email protected]