The world got a rare bit of good news earlier this month, when two separate companies announced promising COVID-19 vaccines. That might have been a hollow victory, if initial reports about short-term coronavirus immunity held true. The New York Times is reporting, however, that a new study claims to show lingering long-term antibodies to fight the coronavirus. This means that an infected (or vaccinated) person might be able to ward off the virus for months or even years.
The unreviewed study that was published directly online by its researchers claimed that a majority of the formerly infected patients they studied still had enough immune cells to fight the virus off as long as eight months later.
“That amount of memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years,” Shane Crotty, a leader of the La Jolla Institute of Immunology study, told the Times.
The study was made up of 185 men and women between the ages of 19 and 81. They tracked four different types of immune cells in the patients to see which gradually faded and which held strong. Though their was a huge difference in the amounts of cells present among the participants, nearly all had enough cells to reasonably beat back the virus at the end of the study.
The study teams up with a raft of good news about the long-term prospects of fighting coronavirus. Recent research found that people infected with SARS, a form of coronavirus, still had immune cells that coud ward off reinfection as many as 17 years later, per the Times. Other researchers found that those who had recovered from COVID-19 contained cells that would fight the virus, even if antibodies were not present on tests.