By: David Geller, CPCU, SCLA
Research produced by the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC), Public Health England and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has produced some potentially positive findings pertaining to the duration of immunity from individuals who had been inflicted with COVID-19 (this study has yet to be peer-reviewed, per the UK-CIC website).
The researchers reportedly collected 100 blood samples of clinical and non-clinical workers who had tested sero-positive for SARS-CoV-2 in March and April. None of these individuals were hospitalized, and the only symptoms experienced by this group were mild/moderate at worst.
The researchers have found that T-cells, which, per CNBC, “are a part of our immune system that attack cells which have been infected with a virus or other kind of pathogen and they help other antibody-producing cells in the immune system” are responsive to SARS-CoV-2 even six months after these individuals became sick. Per the UK-CIC website, this insight reflects a “robust cellular memory against the virus persists for at least six months.”
Of note, an interesting finding was relayed concerning the response of those who were more symptomatic than others. Per the UK-CIC website:
The size of T cell response differed between individuals, being considerably (50%) higher in people who had experienced symptomatic disease at the time of infection six months previously. Further research will be needed to determine the significance of this finding. It is possible that heightened cellular immunity might provide increased protection against re-infection in people with initial symptomatic infection, or that asymptomatic individuals are simply able to fight off the virus without the need to generate a large immune response.
Additionally, a consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England who was one of the study’s authors stated that “early results show that T-cell responses may outlast the initial antibody response, which could have a significant impact on COVID vaccine development and immunity research.”
More research will likely be conducted in the weeks and months to come, but this result of immunity from reinfection six months after contracting COVID-19 appears to be a positive step.