October 15, 2020

Study finds lasting protection in patients who have recovered from COVID-19

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, finds that patients who survive serious COVID-19 infections have a long-lasting immune response against the virus.

The study includes a cohort of case patients with known COVID-19 infection (343) and controls (1,548). Blood samples were drawn up to 4 months after a patient began showing symptoms, and they were compared with blood samples from patients obtained before the pandemic.

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The researchers found that antibodies against the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the virus spike protein were accurate indicators of a recent severe COVID-19 infection, and that the presence of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies targeting the RBD region was a highly sensitive marker of infection 14 days from onset of illness.

The levels of IgG remained elevated in infected patients for 4 months and were associated with the presence of protective neutralizing antibodies.

The findings show that key antibody responses to COVID-19 do persist for 4 months, which means that patients are very likely protected for that period of time, the researchers say.


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