Those who develop antibodies to СOVID-19 have protection against the virus for a long time, a comprehensive Icelandic study has concluded.
According to the study conducted by the research company Decode Genetics, there is no indication that the proportion of antibodies decreases at a rapid rate after recovery, which has sparked dark clouds of concern, Icelandic public broadcaster RUV reported.
“We have tested a large number of people and our results are unequivocal”, Kari Stefansson, neurologist and the company's CEO, said.
Of the 30,000 people tested in Iceland, almost one percent have developed antibodies to the coronavirus, according to the study.
Among the people tested, older people carried more antibodies than younger people – and men more than women.
“Women do not need as many. They generally become less ill than men, even though they have fewer antibodies”, Kari Stefansson explained.
So far, the island nation of 360,000 has seen a total of 1,926 COVID-19 cases and ten confirmed deaths. However, about 9 percent of those who tested positive for the coronavirus had not developed any antibodies at all. According to Stefansson, one explanation for this may be incorrect test results.
“Another one is that the body may be able to knock out the virus through T-cells alone”, he mused, suggesting that further studies will clear out this matter.
A previous research report from King's College in London indicated that antibodies to COVID-19 start to die off after only two or three months, casting doubt over the lasting effect of immunity.
Nevertheless, the belief in a more or less lasting immunity is shared by other nations, such as Sweden, which strayed from the common lockdown path and remained open, eyeing herd immunity. In July, the country's Public Health Agency suggested that the metropolitan area of Greater Stockholm may be approaching herd immunity levels, as nearly 40 percent of residents appeared to have developed antibodies.
“We did not expect a lifelong immunity to this disease because we have looked at the knowledge that you have from other coronaviruses”, Karin Tegmark Wisell at the Swedish Public Health Agency told national broadcaster SVT.
According to the Public Health Agency, one becomes immune for about half a year after having contracted COVID-19.
So far, Sweden has seen 81,540 cases and 5,760 fatalities, sparking criticism over its controversial strategy and “unnecessary” deaths.