Antibody protection diminishes over time

Antibody protection diminishes over time

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An English research group examined over 365,000 people in England for COVID-19 antibodies. The results suggest that the antibody response, and thus long-term protection against the virus, wanes over time.The effects of the Coronavirus are obvious – if sometimes invisible to others, but noticeable to almost everyone.

After the so-called first corona wave in spring, researchers would therefore like to find out how high the actually The number of unreported cases of coronavirus disease is.

This can best be demonstrated using antibodies: an immune reaction that is present when the body has been exposed to the coronavirus and has fought against it with the help of the antibodies.

Between June 20 and September 28, 2020, the researchers sent these finger prick tests to over 365,000 randomly selected volunteers, who carried out the tests independently at home.

A research group led by the Imperial College London finger prick tests from subjects across England for three months.

The level of antibodies decreased

In three rounds, scientists analyzed the antibody prevalence of the virus – i.e. the proportion of test persons who had antibodies and were thus already infected with the coronavirus.

Program director Prof. Paul Elliott explained this at the Homepage des Imperial College: “Our study shows that over time the proportion of people we test positive for antibodies decreases. So a positive test for antibodies does not mean that they are immune to COVID-19. It remains unclear what level of immunity Antibodies offer or how long that immunity lasts. ”

A total of 17,576 test subjects tested positive for antibodies, with around 30 percent remaining symptom-free.

The study found that in the first test round six percent of the test subjects had antibodies, while in the second round it was only 4.8 percent and in the third round only 4.4 percent.

Video: Corona, flu or cold? These are the differences (glomex)

In short: the proportion of antibodies fell, which also reduced immunity to the virus.

Differences in the age groups

The decreasing level of antibodies was found in all age groups, but the decrease was lowest in the youngest age group.

While the antibodies in the age group between 18 and 24 years fell by around 15 percent, the proportion in the oldest group of over 75 year olds fell by 39 percent.

Study shows that hygiene and distance remain important

Prof. Helen Ward, one of the leading authors of the study, therefore continues to recommend compliance with the corona measures:

“This very large study showed that the percentage of people with detectable antibodies decreased over time. We don’t yet know if this puts these people at risk of re-infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. But it is It is important that everyone continues to follow guidelines to reduce the risk to themselves and others. ”

Like many current studies, this presentation of the results is a pre-publication by Imperial College.

The results have not yet gone through the so-called peer review process, in which other scientists criticize the study and suggest points for improvement before it can be revised and finally published.

In studies on the coronavirus in particular, this method was used more frequently in order to provide more rapid information on the serious pandemic.


Ward, H., Elliot, P. et al. (2020): Declining prevalence of antibody positivity to SARS-CoV-2: a community study of 365,000 adults, abgerufen am 29.10.20:,

Imperial College London (2020): Study shows falling antibody prevalence in England, accessed on October 29, 2020: /


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