Coronavirus antibodies detectable up to seven months post virus onset

A new Portuguese study shows that antibodies can be detected up to seven months after being infected with COVID-19.

SARS-CoV-2 spread rapidly around the world and was declared a global pandemic earlier this year. To understand the continued spread of the virus, the researchers highlight the importance of identifying those who are and have been infected and tracking the immune response over the long term.

Marc Veldhoen, principal researcher at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM; Portugal), led an interdisciplinary team of scientists from the Faculdade de Medicina of the Universidade de Lisboa (FMUL) and the Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte (CHLN) as well as employees of the Instituto Português do Sangue e Transplantação (IPST) for monitoring the long-term immune response to coronavirus.

The study, published in the European Journal of Immunology, monitored 300 patients infected with the virus and 198 volunteers previously infected with COVID-19. The researchers set up an in-house sensitive, specific and versatile COVID-19 serology test to monitor coronavirus antibody levels.

The study shows that 90% of subjects have detectable antibodies up to seven months after being infected with COVID-19. It was also found that age was not a factor in antibody production, but the severity of the disease was. In the acute phase of the immune response, higher antibody levels have been seen in patients with more severe disease.

The study showed that men, on average, produce more coronavirus antibodies than women. However, antibody levels even out during the dissolution phase and are similar between men and women in the months following infection. The researchers discuss that “we and others have found higher levels of antibodies in men compared to women. This is surprising because, on average, women have more B cells and produce more antibodies. Higher antibody titers in men observed in the acute stage correlate well with men who have more severe symptoms and have reported increased deaths. "

The scientists believe the coming months will be crucial in assessing the robustness of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Interestingly, the researchers note: "Since the SARS-CoV-2 reaction is consistent with known and carefully examined immune responses that lead to lymphocyte memory, it is very likely that the SARS-CoV-2 protective immunity, which reduces the severity of the disease , has lasted for at least a couple of years. "

The topic of long-lasting and protective immunity to COVID-19 is a major focus of current research. Based on the details of the assays used in the study, this information can facilitate further and longitudinal analysis of the protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

Written by Helen Massy, ​​BSc


Figueiredo-Campos, P., Blankenhaus, B., Mota, C., Gomes, A., Serrano, M., Ariotti, S., Costa, C., Nunes-Cabaço, H., Mendes, A., Gaspar P., Pereira-Santos, M., Rodrigues, F., Condeço, J., Escoval, M., Santos, M., Ramirez, M., Melo-Cristino, J., Simas, J., Vasconcelos, E ., Afonso, Â. and Veldhoen, M., 2020. Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in COVID-19 patients and healthy volunteers up to six months after the onset of the disease. European Journal of Immunology ,.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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