We’ve had a few of these stories in the headlines recently but I wanted to highlight two of them here. It appears that what we all hoped would be the case, i.e. that most people who get the virus will recover and thereafter retain a long term immunity to reinfection, is not going to work out. A Chinese study published in Nature last week suggests that antibodies to the virus may only last for a few months.
Antibodies — protective proteins made in response to an infection — may last only two to three months, especially in people who never showed symptoms while they were infected.
The conclusion does not necessarily mean that these people can be infected a second time, several experts cautioned. Even low levels of powerful neutralizing antibodies may still be protective, as are the immune system’s T cells and B cells.
But the results offer a strong note of caution against the idea of “immunity certificates” for people who have recovered from the illness, the authors suggested…
Antibodies to other coronaviruses, including those that cause SARS and MERS, are thought to last about a year. Scientists had hoped that antibodies to the new virus might last at least as long.
Today Fox News published a story in which a Columbia University infectious disease specialist reacts to the Chinese study: