Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 may diminish over time in mild cases of infection

July 24, 2020

A study by UCLA researchers shows that in people with mild cases of COVID-19, antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes the disease — drop sharply over the first three months after infection, decreasing by roughly half every 36 days. If sustained at that rate, the antibodies would disappear within about a year, according to a news release from UCLA.

Previous reports have suggested that antibodies against the novel coronavirus are short-lived, but the rate at which they decrease has not been carefully defined.

The researchers studied 20 women and 14 men who recovered from mild cases of COVID-19. Antibody tests were conducted at an average of 36 days and 82 days after the initial symptoms of infection.

The findings raise concerns about antibody-based “immunity passports,” the potential for herd immunity and the reliability of antibody tests for estimating past infections. In addition, the findings may have implications for the durability of antibody-based vaccines.

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