Study Finds Recovered COVID-19 Patients Lose Immunity Within Months

The study has not been peer-reviewed, but its authors say it could mean achieving herd immunity is impossible.

Study Finds Recovered COVID-19 Patients Lose Immunity Within Months
Elise Amendola / AP

A new study found that people who were previously infected with the coronavirus and recovered may lose their immunity to the virus within months. 

Researchers in London tested a group of recovered COVID-19 patients and health care workers to monitor their antibody levels over time. Sixty percent of patients had strong antibody responses during the peak of their infections. But two months later, only about 17% had those same antibody responses, and others had no detectable antibodies at all.

Researchers fear that if coronavirus recovery depends on strong antibodies and if those antibodies drop off in a short amount of time, achieving herd immunity may be impossible. They say the virus could become as common as a cold and that people may need to be vaccinated more than once. 

Dr. Katie Doores from the King’s College London, the lead author of the study, said, "Infection tends to give you the best-case scenario for an antibody response, so if your infection is giving you antibody levels that wane in two to three months, the vaccine will potentially do the same thing."

This study has not been peer-reviewed. But with so much still unknown about the coronavirus and its long-term effects, researchers are hopeful that any new information about antibody responses could bring us closer to effective treatment and prevention.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been roughly 13 million confirmed infections worldwide and more than 570,000 related deaths. 

Contains footage from CNN.