A study by a team of Imperial College London researchers found that antibodies developed following COVID-19 infections disappear within a matter of weeks, with one of the researchers saying the study suggests that immunity “is waning quite rapidly.”
While the researchers acknowledged that antibodies are just one form of immunity developed by the body, nevertheless, one of the researchers suggested that the decline in antibodies also points to a likely decline in overall immunity.
Study director Professor Paul Elliott said it was possible that some people might need follow-up booster doses of any vaccine that became available to compensate for fading immunity over time.
Arutz Sheva contacted several Israeli scientists and physicians to comment on the findings, revealing a consensus among those contacted that it is a normal part of the immune response that antibody levels fall after an infection has resolved. For example, Professor Shoshy Altuvia from Hebrew University said in seasonal coronavirus infections, antibodies start to decline at about a week after infection and typically only last for about a year.
Professor Yoram Lass told Arutz Sheva: "The real story is not blood antibodies (IgG) but rather T cell immunity embedded in blood white cells for life. Exposure to 'old' regular winter coronavirus provides cross immunity to the current, new coronavirus." This was echoed by physicist, expert in algorithms and models inspection, and consultant in the field of biomedicine Dr. Uri Gavish, who called the finding "nonsense; decline in antibody level does not necessarily mean a loss of immunity."
Internal medicine and gastroenterology specialist and Hesder Yeshiva in Shaalvim graduate Dr. Shmuel Rochberger told Arutz Sheva: "In my opinion, even if the antibody level drops it does not mean the patient is not immune. There is cellular immunity and with re-infection the antibodies also rise rapidly and prevent significant disease."
Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology Chair Prof. Udi Qimron told Arutz Sheva: "A decline in antibody levels is a normal phenomenon observed after recovery from most infections.
"Long lasting immunity is conferred by survival of memory B cells that produce these antibodies. Therefore, the decline in antibody level does not mean loss of immunity.
"The fact that so few people out of millions of people recovering from COVID-19 show recurrent infections demonstrates that immunity persists in most patients for at least 6-8 months, and probably much longer."
Hebrew University immunologist Prof. Zvika Granot told Arutz Sheva: "Upon encountering new viral components, one develops antibodies that are at high levels. This is maintained for a while and then subsides. But there is immune memory that is activated when you encounter this virus again, and then the antibodies rise again to fight the infection.
"We can have some wild speculations on why things like this are published. It would have been wonderful if we had high levels of antibodies for every microbe we ever encountered, but the reality is that our body is economic and invests significant effort when it is required and not continuously.
"Also, on top of an antibody-mediated response, there's also a cellular response that is completely ignored in this article."
Department of Microbiology and Clinical Immunology in the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University member and Coronavirus Laboratory at Tel Aviv University head Prof. Ariel Munitz told Arutz Sheva: "Different antibodies have a distinct half-life in the body and therefore they can certainly fade. The important thing is that we have immune memory. Immune memory is the response of the B cells, which produce the antibodies towards the virus. This reaction is maintained. Thus, even if the Abs fade, the B cells can still undergo reactivation and generate new Abs."
Asked to speculate as to why this consideration is ignored in the finding, Professor Munitz said: "I assume it was not in the scope of the study since these type of studies are a bit more complicated to conduct. They should have discussed it."