A new Chinese study suggests that those who develop antibodies after becoming infected with the coronavirus may not keep them for more than two months, а claim which adds to already growing concerns about the virus, as several states in the U.S. see alarming spikes in cases, Fox News reports.
When the novel coronavirus hit the United States, Americans went to antibody test sites in droves to find out if they had been infected by COVID-19 and therefore would have some level of protection from the virus.
However, findings like those in the study call into question just how safe people who have antibodies to the virus really are from reinfection, Fox News reiterates.
“When you get an antibody test, we don’t really know enough to be able to assure you that you’re safe. And I think the more we’re learning about antibodies, the more we’re beginning to say we’re not so sure that you’re safe,” Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University Medical Center, told Fox News.
Researchers from Chongqing Medical University in China looked at 37 people who became infected with the coronavirus and showed symptoms and 37 people who became infected and showed no symptoms.
The study found that out of the participants involved, antibody levels fell to undetectable levels in 40 percent of asymptomatic people and 13 percent of symptomatic people just eight weeks after they recovered from COVID-19, Fox News informs.
“Many of us were quite disturbed when we saw this study out of China, which actually demonstrated that in a number of individuals, particularly these individuals with more mild disease, that we’re worried are the silent spreaders, that these individuals were losing their antibodies shield after just a month or two,” Griffin said.
Griffin also said that he hoped that COVID-19 would leave those infected with a protective shield for a year or two since past studies on similar viruses like SARS and MERS found that antibodies last for at least a year.
“This is why we keep seeing the common cold coronaviruses cause infections on a yearly basis, often in the same individuals and we’ve even seen them do this in the same individual just a few months apart,” Griffin explained.
“So this is quite worrisome that here we’re seeing evidence that maybe a person can get COVID-19 more than once, maybe more than once in a short period of time,” the Columbia University infectious disease specialist said.
The findings in the new Chinese study also calls into question the idea of “immunity passports,” which some countries may issue to recovered COVID-19 patients to allow them to go back to work and travel because they’re supposedly immune to the virus.