The fully vaccinated have finally been given a “get out of jail free card” from the CDC, while those who suffered through the covid infection remain personae non gratae. The National Institutes of Health published a study on June 18, 2020 of the evidence of protective antibodies in those who have been infected with covid. An earlier NIH study had shown that less than 1% of infected individuals had antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Another study showed that within a couple of months, antibody levels had dropped off precipitously. There were also anecdotal reports that a small number of individuals had experienced the covid infection twice. This led to the widespread belief that having the infection provided little or no protection against reinfection or spreading infection to others. In spite of new and not so new evidence to the contrary that perception persists today.
The June 18, 2020 study by the NIH determined that those infected with corona virus develop potent antibodies that don’t kill the virus directly , but rather link to the virus’ protein spikes, preventing it from attaching to human cells. If the virus cannot inject it’s genes into a host cell via it’s protein spikes, it cannot reproduce more viruses. This study focused on these so called neutralizing antibodies that bind to a part of the spike proteins called the receptor binding domain (RBD). The study found that the antibodies in the different research subjects were very similar, and fell into three groups that attached to the RBD in different places, and that the antibodies were all very effective in binding to the virus and stopping the infection. These insights from the study heavily influenced the design of the vaccines that are being used today and which are proving to be highly effective at preventing infection, though not without side effects to some people.
View Report NIH Research Matters: “Potent antibodies found in people recovered from COVID-19
Now that more than a year has past since the beginning of the pandemic, researchers have been studying the longevity of the immunity in persons who have been infected with covid. Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, studied 77 people who recovered from mild cases of coronavirus over eleven months. Researchers at WU explain that the early studies showing that people infected with covid had no long term immunity were misinterpreted. The short term decline in antibodies after an acute infection has cleared is normal, as they are no longer needed. The remaining antibodies retreat into the bone marrow and continue to produce low levels of antibodies to prevent reinfection. Blood and bone marrow samples were taken from the study subjects that detected antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the neutralizing antibodies that bind to the spike proteins, even after eleven months. The study’s senior author, Ali Ellebedy, PhD, concluded that ”These cells will live and produce antibodies for the rest of people’s lives. That’s strong evidence for long-lasting immunity.”
They added that it would be prudent to repeat the study on patients who had a severe case of covid.
Generally, a serious infection causes more antibodies to be produced, but it also triggers inflammation that can interfere with the immune response and might weaken long term immunity. As the program to vaccinate millions of people is still recent, one would assume that studies also need to done to see how long lasting the immunity is from the various vaccines. In the meantime, perhaps the CDC should invite the covid survivors to take off their masks.
View Report: Study Finds.org, “Mild COVID-19 cases can lead to antibody protection for life,”