Studies have shown that antibodies can offer real protection against viruses and that cellular immunity can persist even in mild cases. Scientists are increasingly confident that people will be immune to SARS-CoV-2.
Antibodies have long been believed to prevent reinfection, but a researcher at the University of Washington published the first study with real evidence last week.
He followed 122 crew members on a fishing boat in the Pacific near Seattle, Washington. Everyone was tested for antibodies and viruses before and after departure. An epidemic broke out on the ship, and 104 people were infected – 85% attack rate.
However, only those without pre-existing antibodies were infected with the virus. None of the three crew members who had been exposed to the disease and had antibodies before leaving the ship showed signs of reinfection.
Professor Danny Altman of the Department of Immunology and Inflammation at Imperial College Hammersmith Hospital said, “While this is a small study, it offers an extraordinary real human experience. When we lack a line of products, it has been formally proven that neutralizing antibodies can protect against reinfection.
In a nutshell, this is good news!
While the results are good news, one key question about the human immune response to the virus is how long these antibodies can last. Most studies show that they begin to age after just a few months.
More and more evidence, however, shows that T and B cells often referred to as memory cells, offer a longer-term protection.
Gomerman said that since scientists have seen no record of reinfection, even if the epidemic spreads this far, it strongly suggests that the human immune system has a good effect on this threat, and the possibility of reinfection is low.
Last month, it was widely reported that researchers at Karolinska University Hospital and the University Hospital of Wales discovered that people who have recovered from asymptomatic or mild Covid-19 cases might have long-term T-cell immunity to severe infections.