People may be able to fight off reinfection for at least six months after they recover from COVID-19 thanks to cells that can “remember” the virus, according to research published Monday.
Researchers in the United States and Switzerland studied dozens of people who had recovered from COVID-19 and found that while their antibodies may fade over time, they maintained levels of specific memory B cells.
These cells can remember the pathogen and can, if faced with reinfection, prompt the immune system to reinitiate the production of virus-fighting antibodies.
The authors assessed 87 people with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis at a little over one month and six months after infection.
While they found that virus neutralising antibody activity decreased with time, the number of memory B cells remained unchanged.
Researchers said their study indicated that the memory B cell response against the coronavirus evolves during the six months after infection in the presence of viral remnant proteins in the body – enabling the cells to produce more potent antibodies.