Long-term immunity in doubt as study finds COVID-19 antibodies fall rapidly
“This very large study has shown that the proportion of people with detectable antibodies is falling over time.
We don’t yet know whether this will leave these people at risk of reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others,” said professor Helen Ward, one of the lead authors.
The decline was largest in people aged 75 and above compared to younger people, and also in people with suspected rather than confirmed infection, indicating that the antibody response varies by age and with the severity of illness.
The decline was largest in people who didn’t report a history of COVID-19, dropping by almost two-thirds (64 per cent) between rounds one and three, compared to a decrease of 22.3 per cent in people who had an infection confirmed by lab testing.
UK Health Minister Lord Bethell said the research would help inform the government’s continued response to the disease.
“It is also important that everyone knows what this means for them – this study will help in our fight against the virus, but testing positive for antibodies does not mean you are immune to COVID-19,” said Lord James Bethell.
“Regardless of the result of an antibody test, everyone must continue to comply with government guidelines including social distancing, self-isolating and getting a test if you have symptoms and always remember Hands, Face, Space,” he said.