Study shows mild COVID-19 induced lasting antibody protection

But experts say vaccine gives added protection
Posted at 4:34 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 17:21:24-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Ann Metzler of Buffalo said she already had COVID-19 and recovered, so did all five members of her immediate family.

She said they've all had blood tests showing they have the antibodies.

"I had no symptoms. I never had a fever, I didn't even have a runny nose," said Metzler.

And as people transition back to in-person work and school, Metzler has questions.

"What about having natural immunity? Isn't there anything to say for those of us in that realm that feel we are already immune because we've had the infection?" she said.

A new study on antibody production from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, shows people who experienced mild illness from COVID-19 developed long-lasting antibody protection.

And these antibody-producing immune cells settle in in the bone marrow.

"We used our immunological techniques to actually verify that those individuals who recovered from the infection, indeed have those cells that are secreting antibodies," said Dr. Ali Ellebedy, senior author of the study and Associate Professor of Pathology and Immunology.

But Dr. Ellebedy said having antibodies doesn't mean you are protected, especially against new variants.

"It means you have a functional response to the virus that contained the virus in the beginning. Those who got the infection and the vaccination have a really good neutralizing antibody fighters against these variants," he said.

So should people who have had COVID-19 and have antibodies get vaccinated?

"Absolutely," said Dr. Ellebedy. "They will get the great benefit of this beautiful memory that they have made of the virus, and the vaccine will just build on that."

Dr. Thomas Russo, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University at Buffalo tells us the study is encouraging, but adds getting vaccinated will provide the ultimate degree of protection.

"The key thing to follow is whether these individuals eventually get re-infected, particularly from some of the variants that are circulating at this time. And presently we just don't know," he said