Aside from the research going into COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, scientists are learning what they can about immunity. Those that have been infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus and recovered, produce antibodies that in theory should protect them from reinfection. In fact, experts suggest that understanding these proteins might be the key to defeating the pandemic. However, new findings from a study reportedly show that they do not last as long as speculated in the body.

It was performed in China, where SARS-CoV-2 originated from Wuhan – the capital of Hubei – and published in Nature Medicine, reports ABC News. According to the data, in some individuals, the antibodies produced by the immune system from COVID-19 faded within a couple of months only. Moreover, those who were diagnosed to be asymptomatic only saw a drop quicker than others who suffered the symptoms that follow after infection.

This is probably why there have been reports wherein some who tested negative after recovery were infected once more after a while. This presents another roadblock for scientists as it appears that the duration differs for each COVID-19 patient. The chair of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Vermont Dr. Beth Kirkpatrick stated: "Given that antibodies are likely a component of COVID-19 protective immunity, this is important to confirm in larger studies."

Chongqing Medical University researchers worked with 37 asymptomatic COVID-19 patients as well as 37 more who were symptomatic. These people were located in the Wanzhou District of China. Forty percent from the former group no longer had antibodies shortly after recovery, while only 13 percent was observed in the latter. The team likewise noted that the immune response from the asymptomatic individuals was weaker as well.

Dr Anthony Fauci
This file photo shows infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci at a news briefing March 15, 2020; he now predicts the coronavirus could claim up to 200,000 American lives. Photo: AFP / JIM WATSON

According to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, " It isn't a uniformly robust antibody response, which may be a reason why, when you look at the history of the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, the reports in the literature are that the durability of immunity that's protective ranges from 3 to 6 months to almost always less than a year." Hence, the general understanding is that nobody is immune from SARS-CoV-2 just yet.