Story at a glance
- Almost 100 percent of participants who previously had the virus retained coronavirus antibodies for three months after infection.
- Eighty-eight percent were found to have antibodies for the full six months of the study.
- Researchers collected monthly blood samples from more than 20,000 participants between May and December.
A new study out of the United Kingdom suggests that coronavirus antibodies last for at least six months after infection for the majority of people who have had the virus.
The study from UK Biobank, a biomedical database and research group, measured levels of previous infection in various population groups across the United Kingdom from May to December. Researchers collected monthly blood samples from more than 20,000 participants.
According to the research, 99 percent of participants who previously had the virus retained coronavirus antibodies for three months after infection, while 88 percent were found to have antibodies for the full 6 months of the study.
“This discovery provides an early indication that the antibodies produced following natural infection, and potentially following vaccination, may protect most people against subsequent infection for at least 6 months,” UK Biobank said in a statement.
Antibodies were found in greater proportion in young people compared with older participants. The study found 13.5 percent of people under 30 had detectable antibodies, while 6.7 percent of those over 70 did.
Researchers noted that it was too soon to know whether the antibodies could provide protection against new transmissible strains of coronavirus.
“While the findings offer some promise, now is not the time for complacency,” Naomi Allen, chief scientist at UK Biobank, said in a statement.
“We still do not fully understand how long protection from antibodies may last, and we know people with antibodies may still be able to pass the virus on to others. Right now, it remains vital for everyone to stay at home, even if you have had COVID-19 in the past, so we can stop the spread of the virus,” Allen said.
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