Research published this week indicates that Covid-19 antibodies produced by those with mild infection may remain detectable for at least 11 months post-infection.
In the study published in the journal Nature, researchers took blood samples from 77 people previously infected with Covid-19. In the initial phase of the study, samples showed a decrease in the presence of Covid-19 antibodies post-infection. Between four and 11 months post-infection, this decline slowed.
However, researchers also took bone marrow samples from 18 previously infected patients, to measure the presence of bone marrow plasma cells, which are important in antibody protection and the development of long-term viral protection.
Within the bone marrow samples, researchers did find long-lived bone marrow plasma cells (BMPC) which would produce Covid-19 antibodies. Unlike the decline in other antibodies observed, BMPC levels remained stable 7 to 11 months after infection.
“We’re looking at the source of these antibodies that are produced by cells that live in our bone marrow,” Ali Ellebedy, an associate professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine who contributed to the study told CNN on Wednesday.
“What we saw in people who have been infected even a year ago, those cells are stable in their bone marrows and they continue to produce antibodies over time," Ellebedy said.
Researchers said the presence of these cells does not automatically mean a robust immune response would kick in if any of these participants were to be re-infected, but that the potential for long-lived immune response is present.
“I think it’s very important to make a distinction between having an antibody doesn’t mean you’re completely protected, that’s very different,” he said. “But what we should be excited about and encouraged about is you have these memory cells that are ready to jump into action once we have the virus or once we get exposed to the virus again.”