Scientists presenting the findings, from 100 non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients in Britain, said they were “reassuring” but did not mean people cannot in rare cases be infected twice with the disease.
“While our findings cause us to be cautiously optimistic about the strength and length of immunity generated after SARS-CoV-2 infection, this is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Paul Moss, a professor of haematology at Britain’s Birmingham University who co-led the study.
“There is still a lot for us learn before we have a full understanding of how immunity to COVID-19 works.”
Experts not directly involved with the study said its findings were important and would add to a growing body of knowledge about potential protective immunity to COVID-19.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed by other experts but was published online on bioRxiv, analysed the blood of 100 patients six months after they had had either mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. It found that while some of the patients’ antibody levels had dropped, their T-cell response – another key part of the immune system – remained robust.
“(Our) early results show that T-cell responses may outlast the initial antibody response,” said Shamez Ladhani, a consultant epidemiologist at
Public Health England who co-led the work.
The study also found the size of T-cell response differed, and was considerably higher in people who had had symptomatic COVID-19 than those who had no symptoms when infected.
The researchers said this could be interpreted in two ways: It is possible that higher cellular immunity might give better protection against re-infection in people who had symptoms, or equally, that asymptomatic patients are better able to fight off the virus without the need to generate a large immune response.
“These results provide reassurance that, although the titre of antibody to SARS-CoV-2 can fall below detectable levels within a few months of infection, a degree of immunity to the virus may be maintained,” said Charles Bangham, chair of immunology at Imperial College London.
“This … bodes well for the long term, in terms of both vaccine development and the possibility of long-term protection against re-infection,” said Eleanor Riley, an immunology and infectious disease professor at Edinburgh University. She stressed, however, that “we don’t yet know whether the people in this study are protected from re-infection.”
While more than 46 million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, confirmed cases of re-infection are so far very rare.
Coronavirus Can Get Children Worried: Here’s How To Have The Talk
In the wake of coronavirus, several schools and colleges have been shut in many parts of the world to contain the spread of COVID-19. As public awareness and conversations around the novel virus increase, the situation can get the children anxious and worried for their family members and friends.
Parents, family members, teachers, healthcare professionals and trusted adults play a significant role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate and minimise their fear or anxiety.
Dr Sreenath Manikanti, Senior Consultant Neonatologist & HOD Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore shares a few tips to help make the corona conversation easier around children.
General Principles While Talking To Kids
– Children pick up cues from conversations you have with them and others
– Patiently listen to what they say, and allow them to ask questions
– Avoid using words that might blame others and lead to stigma
– Remember that the virus can make anyone sick. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19
– Pay attention to what children see, hear or read on television, radio or online
– Reduce the amount of screen time for children focused on COVID-19. Too much information on any one topic can lead to anxiety and worry
– Provide information to kids that is honest and accurate. Give information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child
– Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the internet and social media may be based on rumours and inaccurate information
– Teach chilren everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs
– Stay calm and keep information simple
– Reassure children that health and school authorities are working very hard to keep everyone safe and healthy
– Teach dos and don’ts at home, schools and play areas
– Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and then throw the tissue into a closed bin
– Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing, after using restroom, and before eating or learning to prepare food
– If soap and water are not available, teach children to use hand sanitiser
– Avoid coughing or sneezing into hands
– Avoid crowded places
– Avoid touching surfaces in public places and play areas unnecessarily
Points For Discussions About COVID-19
– COVID-19 is the short name for ‘coronavirus disease 2019’
– It is a new virus. Doctors are still learning more about it
– Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick
– Doctors and scientists think that most people will be alright, especially kids, but some people might get very sick
– Doctors and experts are working hard to help people stay healthy