Mixed Takes on Antibodies and Immunity

Emerging COVID-19 research is yielding differing takes on antibodies and immunity.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency said yesterday that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are likely to be immune for at least 6 months post-infection—whether they’ve developed antibodies or not, Bloomberg reports.

The agency says it is safe for individuals who have been infected to come into contact with people in high-risk groups. “We don’t see cases of people falling ill twice from Covid-19,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (who “remains a controversial figure for his decision to advise against imposing a proper lockdown in Sweden”).

People considered immune, however, can still act as carriers of the virus in society—and need to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices.

But: New research from the University of California, Los Angeles indicates that COVID-19 antibodies may only last a few months in people with mild illnessthe AP reports.

Results published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine led Otto Yang and his team to “call for caution regarding antibody-based ‘immunity passports,’ herd immunity, and perhaps vaccine durability.”

But: That still doesn’t mean all protection fades, as other parts of the immune system also play a role, says Buddy Creech, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “This shouldn’t dissuade us from pursuing a vaccine … Antibodies are only a part of the story.”

Related: Few—but many more than reported—had COVID-19, studies estimate – CIDRAP

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