New study suggests coronavirus antibodies last longer than thought, promising news in vaccine search

The findings suggests antibodies remain in humans longer than previously thought

Updated: September 2, 2020 - 1:15pm

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The antibodies that humans make to fight the coronavirus last for at least four months after they test positive and stay in their system longer than earlier reports suggested, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The report was published Tuesday and is based on tests from more than 30,000 people in Iceland. It is the most extensive work yet on the immune system’s response to the virus over time, according to the Associated Press.

The study findings are also promising in the efforts to develop a virus vaccine because they suggest that “immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting,” scientists from Harvard University and the U.S. National Institutes of Health wrote in a commentary published with the study.

Scientists have since the start of the pandemic wondered whether having the virus helps prevent future infection and for how long.

Smaller, earlier studies have suggested that antibodies may disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not make many at all.

The new study was done by Reykjavik-based deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of the U.S. biotech company Amgen, with several hospitals, universities and health officials in Iceland. The country tested 15% of its population since late February, when its first COVID-19 cases were detected, giving a solid base for comparisons, the wire service also reports.

 

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