Persistence Of Covid-19 Antibodies Varies Widely From Person To Person

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of Covid-19 is why the neutralizing antibodies our bodies generate in response to the virus tend to dwindle in number so quickly. A small minority of studies, including one completed in Iceland last summer, have observed lengthier periods of persistence in their participants, but the vast majority—spanning a wide breadth of people and places, from specialized Covid-19 hospitals in China to healthcare workers in Tennessee—concluded that anti-Covid-19 antibodies were fast to fade, so much so that some patients didn’t even appear to develop any, at least not at levels that could be detected by researchers.

Another way of interpreting this array of data, however, is that antibody persistence varies from person to person—meaning people with longer-lasting antibodies wouldn’t be outliers, but just one clause of a general rule. This is the argument made by a new study published in The Lancet last week, which sorted participants into five different categories based on the titer and duration of their neutralizing antibody response. While distribution between them was by no means equal, it ranged enough to beg the question of whether current conceptions of immunity from Covid-19, which influence everything from nationwide vaccine strategies to our individual choices and behaviors, require revision.

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Originally published on Forbes (March 30, 2021)

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.