CAPE TOWN- One of the more pertinent questions surrounding the novel coronavirus is whether people who have been infected are immune from reinfection and, if so, for how long.
Researchers from the University of Arizona Health Sciences conducted a serological study which was published in Immunity and examined the production of antibodies from a sample of nearly 6,000 people and found that immunity persists for at least five to seven months after infection.
Earlier research studies have expressed concerns about immunity against Covid-19 not lasting long, however, associate professor in the immunology department at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson, Dr Deepta Bhattacharya, says they have clearly seen high quality antibodies found several months after infection.
Dr. Bhattacharya says that previous research on antibodies focused mostly on short-lived plasma cells and failed to take into account long-lived plasma cells and the high-affinity antibodies they produce.
When a virus first enters the body and infects cells, the immune system deploys short-lived plasma cells that produce antibodies to immediately fight the virus. Those antibodies appear in blood tests within 14 days of infection.
The second stage of the immune response is the creation of long-lived plasma cells, which produce high-quality antibodies that provide lasting immunity.
UArizona Health Sciences Senior Vice President Dr Michael Dake, said the question of whether antibodies provide lasting protection against the virus has been one of the most difficult questions to answer
“This research not only has given us the ability to accurately test for antibodies against Covid-19, but also has armed us with the knowledge that lasting immunity is a reality,” he said.
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