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Covid sufferers protected for several years

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Covid sufferers protected for several years

If you’ve had Covid-19, you could be protected for up to several years, new research has discovered.

Earlier research had suggested that infection gives you immunity for just a couple of months—but that was because the researchers were only tracking antibodies, which always decrease when an infection has passed.

But other immune responses, which still ‘remember’ the signature of the virus, remain active, and protect us from further infection or, at the very least, ensure any symptoms next time around are relatively mild. As a result, someone who has been infected has natural protection for at least eight months, but it could be as much as several years, depending on the health of their immune system, say researchers from La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

Taking blood samples from 188 Covid-19 patients, the researchers measured all the main immune responses, including antibodies, memory B cells, helper T cells and killer T cells, eight months after infection. “There’s a good chance people would have protective immunity, at least against serious disease, for at least eight months, and probably well beyond that,” said researcher Shane Crotty.

The researchers weren’t surprised earlier research had seen a diminishing of antibodies. “The immune response decreases over time to a certain extent, but that’s normal. That’s what immune responses do. They have a first phase of ramping up, and after that fantastic expansion, eventually the immune response contracts and gets to a steady state,” said another researcher, Alessandro Sette.

The level of protection may not be the same for everyone. Those with a weak immune memory may have less protection and could be more prone to reinfection.

(Source: Science, 2021; eabf4063)

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