Coronavirus antibodies decay dramatically after mild illness

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

A small study by University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers shows that in people with mild cases of COVID-19, antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes the disease – drop sharply over the first three months after infection, decreasing by roughly half every 36 days. If sustained at that rate, the antibodies would disappear within about a year.

The findings raise concerns about antibody-based “immunity passports,” the potential for herd immunity and the reliability of antibody tests for estimating past infections. In addition, the findings may have implications for the durability of antibody-based vaccines.

Previous reports have suggested that antibodies against the novel coronavirus are short-lived, but the rate at which they decrease has not been carefully defined. This is the first study to carefully estimate the rate at which the antibodies disappear.

The researchers studied 20 women and 14 men who recovered from mild cases of COVID-19. Antibody tests were conducted at an average of 36 days and 82 days after the initial symptoms of infection.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the James B Pendleton Charitable Trust and the McCarthy Family Foundation funded the study.

F Javier Ibarrondo, Jennifer A Fulcher, David Goodman-Meza, Julie Elliott, Christian Hofmann, Mary A Hausner, Kathie G Ferbas, Nicole H Tobin, Grace M Aldrovandi, Otto O Yang


University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences


NEJM correspondence

Receive Medical Brief's free weekly e-newsletter

Related Posts

Thank you for subscribing to MedicalBrief

MedicalBrief is Africa’s premier medical news and research weekly newsletter. MedicalBrief is published every Thursday and delivered free of charge by email to over 33 000 health professionals.

Please consider completing the form below. The information you supply is optional and will only be used to compile a demographic profile of our subscribers. Your personal details will never be shared with a third party.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the form.