Scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that people who recover from Covid may mount a much faster and more effective defence against the infection if they encounter the virus again.
Researchers at Rockefeller University in New York found that the immune system not only remembered the virus but improved the quality of protective antibodies after an infection had passed, equipping the body to unleash a swift and potent attack if the virus invaded a second time.
“It’s very good news,” said Michel Nussenzweig, the head of molecular immunology at Rockerfeller and a senior author of the study. “The expectation is that people should be able to produce a rapid antibody response and resist infection in a large number of cases.”
It is unclear how long the immune system’s memory might last, but Nussenzweig said it could potentially provide some protection for years. The discovery may explain why verified re-infections from the virus are so far quite rare.
When people are infected with coronavirus, the immune system launches a multi-pronged attack. One form of protection comes from T cells, which seek and destroy infected cells, and so prevent the virus from spreading. A second front involves B cells, which release antibodies into the blood. Antibodies latch on to the virus and stop it from invading cells in the first place. after an infection had passed, equipping the body to unleash a swift and potent attack if the virus invaded a second time.
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