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Too soon to say if COVID recovered patients lose immunity with time

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New Delhi, July 16 | Recent studies suggest that those recovering from COVID-19 may have antibodies for only a few months, a signal that long-term immunity is difficult to achieve, but several scientists dispel the gloom and say it is too soon to determine if such individuals can contract the disease again.

It is too soon to say whether people with lowered levels of novel coronavirus-blocking antibody levels (nAbs) after recovery are at risk of contracting the COVID-19 disease on re-exposure to the virus, Vineeta Bal, an immunologist from the Indian Institute of Science, Education, and Research in Pune, told.

Some special cells of the immune system may still offer protection against the disease, the scientists said as questions swirl on whether people who have recovered from COVID-19 can get it again — even those whose antibodies dwindle progressively as the days and weeks pass.

The discussion and disquiet amongst laypersons following news of the pandemic intensified when a yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, published in medRxiv last week, assessed 90 recovered COVID-19 patients in the UK and found their nAbs decreased between twofold and 23-fold during an 18-65 day follow-up period.

While reports of people testing positive for re-exposure to the virus emerge, it does not necessarily mean that those losing nAbs will develop the disease, said Bal, who was a member of the Prime Minister’s task force for women in science under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

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