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UArizona study: COVID-19 antibodies might provide long-term immunity

PHOENIX – Researchers at the University of Arizona discovered coronavirus antibodies can last for months after a person has recovered from COVID-19, which could provide the possibility of long-term immunity.

The study examined the production of antibodies from nearly 6,000 people around Arizona, and researchers found that immunity lasts for at least several months after a coronavirus diagnosis.

“Whether antibodies provide lasting protection against SARS-CoV-2 has been one of the most difficult questions to answer,” UArizona Health Sciences Senior Vice President Dr. Michael D. Dake said in a press release. “This research not only has given us the ability to accurately test for antibodies against COVID-19, but also has armed us with the knowledge that lasting immunity is a reality.”

Previous studies have indicated that those who recover from COVID-19 may only have short-term immunity.

Typically, when a body is infected with a virus, the body will deply short-term antibodies to ward off infection, but those typically disappear within 14 days. From there, the immune system creates long-term plasma cells which are responsible for the extended immunity.

“The latest time-points we tracked in infected individuals were past seven months, so that is the longest period of time we can confirm immunity lasts,” UArizona College of Medicine Professor Deepta Bhattacharya said.

“That said, we know that people who were infected with the first SARS coronavirus, which is the most similar virus to SARS-CoV-2, are still seeing immunity 17 years after infection. If SARS-CoV-2 is anything like the first one, we expect antibodies to last at least two years, and it would be unlikely for anything much shorter.”

The university has worked to expand its antibody testing efforts after Arizona provided an additional $3.5 million in funding to support the sites in May.

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