Most people who have recovered from COVID-19, even with mild illness, retain a broad and durable immunity to the disease, including some degree of protection against its variants, according to an Emory University study published in the journal, Cell Reports Medicine.
The longitudinal study, the most comprehensive of its kind to date, involved 254 COVID-19 patients, between the ages of 18 to 82 years, who provided blood samples at various points for a period of over eight months beginning in April 2020. About 71 percent of the patients had mild disease, 24 percent experienced moderate illness, and five percent had severe disease.
The researchers found that most of the patients who recovered mounted a strong and wide-ranging immune response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus for up to 250 days.
“We saw that antibody responses, especially IgG antibodies, were not only durable in the vast majority of patients but decayed at a slower rate than previously estimated, which suggests that patients are generating longer-lived plasma cells that can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” Rafi Ahmed, director at Emory Vaccine Center and lead author told Emory News Center on July 22.
SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name of the CCP virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
The authors said that natural immunity after recovery from the disease offered some degree of protection against variants as research suggests that COVID-19 vaccines may be slightly less effective against them.
“The immune response to natural infection is likely to provide some degree of protective immunity even against SARS-CoV-2 variants because the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell epitopes will likely be conserved,” the authors wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is monitoring multiple variants, but only four are of concern since they “seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants.” While experts say variants may be more transmissible, that does not necessarily translate to more severe disease or fatalities.
BY MEILING LEE