One of the pressing questions about COVID-19 remains: How long does immunity last? One key indicator of immunity is the presence of virus-specific antibodies. Previous studies have provided conflicting accounts about whether people who have recovered from infection can sustain potentially-protective antibodies or not. A new study led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston examined blood samples and cells from patients who had recovered from mild to moderate COVID-19 and found that while antibodies against the virus declined in most individuals after disease resolution, a subset of patients sustained anti-virus antibody production several months following infection. These antibody "sustainers" had a shorter course of symptoms, suggesting that some individuals who recover from COVID-19 faster may be mounting a more effective and durable immune response to the virus. Results are published in Cell. The article is titled "Quick COVID-19 Healers Sustain Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Production.” "We've found a subset of individuals that heal quickly while sustaining virus-specific antibody levels after COVID-19," said Duane Wesemann, MD, PhD, an Immunologist and Associate Physician in the Brigham Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. "The kind of immune response we're seeing in these individuals is a bit like investing in an insurance policy--it's the immune system's way of adding a potential layer of protection against future encounters with the virus." The Wesemann lab studies the entire set of antibodies a host's immune system produces and how these antibodies learn to recognize pathogens. In the spring of 2020, the team turned its attention to the COVID-19 pandemic and the immune response of people who become infected.
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