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Oct. 29, 2020, 1:22 p.m. EDT

COVID-19 immunity may only last a few months after infection, study indicates

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By Lina Saigol, Jaimy Lee

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Read:   There are four coronavirus vaccines in late-stage studies — here’s how they differ

The React-2 study comes as weekly deaths linked to coronavirus have risen in England and Wales for the sixth week in a row , according to data released on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics.

The Imperial College researchers said their findings don’t dash hopes of a vaccine.

“The big picture is after the first wave, the great majority of the country didn’t have evidence of protective immunity, said Professor Graham Cooke, one of the researchers, adding: “The need for a vaccine is still very large, the data doesn’t change that.”

On Oct 12., a  University of Arizona Health Sciences Study that examined a sample of nearly 6,000 COVID-19 patients, showed that antibodies persist for months after infection, providing long-term immunity.

“We clearly see high-quality antibodies still being produced five to seven months after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, associate professor of immunobiology, at University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said that while the React-2 study confirms suspicions that antibody responses — especially in vulnerable, elderly populations — decrease over time, it was less clear what the relationship between waning immunity and susceptibility to reinfection and the resulting severity of any subsequent infection was.

“Antibodies are likely to be important in protecting us from future infection and disease, but other arms of the immune system, for example cellular immunity, might also be key. Therefore, it is essential that we gain a better understanding of what protective immunity looks like and this can only be gleaned by measuring all aspects of immunity following infection and seeing how this relates to reinfection risk,” Ball said.

Read: COVID-19 reinfection documented in Nevada man

There are several documented cases of reinfection in the U.S. and abroad, including a 25-year-old man in Reno, Nevada, who was infected with two separate strains of the virus within a two-month period.

Other research published in September in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that antibodies decay in some people who have had mild cases of COVID-19 within three months.

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