Some Covid patients who beat virus may be immune for several years, study suggests
If you survive coronavirus you may still have antibodies for months later, according to the research which is yet to be peer-reviewed (Image: Getty Images)
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Some Covid patients who beat the virus may be immune from catching it again for several years, a new study has suggested.
American researchers have analysed the blood of 185 men and women aged 19 to 81 who had beaten coronavirus.
They say their research is 'exciting' and gives hope that a vaccine will also give long-lasting protection.
The experts found some patients still had Covid antibodies and the immune cells that make them six to eight months later.
The scientists say the slow rate of decline suggests the antibodies and cells may persist for a long time – but not all of them.
The research could be good news for vaccines
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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It means the body is likely to be able to react quickly to reinfections, ensuring they are only mild or asymptomatic.
Prof Shane Crotty, who led the study at La Jolla Institute of Immunology, said: “That amount of memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalised disease, severe disease, for many years.
“The findings have implications for immunity against Covid-19 and thus the potential future course of the pandemic.”
Prof Lawrence Young, from the University of Warwick, said: “The significant take home message is that the immune response to the virus is more long-lived than previously thought.
Professor Shane Crotty said the findings "have implications for immunity against Covid-19"
Prof Lawrence Young of the University of Warwick
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“This lets us continue to hold hope that an effective vaccine will be able to induce sustained protective immunity.”
The findings were published online but have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal.
Professor Andrew Pollard, the head of Oxford's vaccine trial team, said there is "no competition" between different vaccines because "we need multiple vaccines to be successful".
He added that the Oxford vaccine, which studies suggest would not need to be kept at temperatures as low as those made by Pfizer and Moderna, is being developed for distribution "everywhere" including places with limited infrastructure for ultra-cold storage.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "We're really looking globally, we want to be able to get to every corner of the world if indeed the vaccine is shown to work.
Researchers are finding out more every day about Covid-19
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
"The thing that matters with vaccines is the impact it can have, and that is, can you get it to people and are they being vaccinated, so until you've got high coverage and you're able to prevent the disease in those who are most vulnerable, we won't get there.
"That's why we need multiple vaccines to be successful. It's fantastic news that Pfizer and Moderna have got there, and clearly will be getting themselves prepared for their regulatory submissions.
"But there's no competition between them and the other vaccines, we need all of them to be successful, because we've got a lot of people to protect all around the globe."
Speaking about vaccine development by teams around the world, Professor Andrew Pollard said: "We're still at the bottom of that mountain, in some ways, but we've done the route into the bottom of the mountain – the long trek to get to the start.
"Now we've got to get the data about the vaccines in front of regulators for them to scrutinise it and approve the first vaccines, and then we've got that huge effort to climb up to the top where we've got a vast majority of those who are at risk vaccinated and protected, so that the most vulnerable are no longer at risk, and we can start to get back to normal."