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Researchers says COVID immunity could last years

Published: May. 27, 2021 at 6:47 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - More positive news about COVID-19 vaccines.

Researchers are now saying immunity could last for years.

Health experts are hoping the findings of two new studies will help improve vaccine confidence and calm fears about how long immunity lasts.

The studies looked at what our immune system does when it’s exposed directly to the coronavirus or a COVID-19 vaccine.

Researchers found that some cells in your body can remember the virus and can produce more antibodies if you’re ever exposed to the virus again.

Infectious Disease Expert, Dr. Wesley Willeford, said immunity to the coronavirus can last at least a year after natural infection or getting a vaccine.

“What we have here is a good suggestion that we may have much longer immune response than we initially expected. I’m hopeful that that translates into a very long period before we have to get a booster or anything like that,” Dr. Willeford said.

He said it’s still unclear exactly how long that immunity will last because researchers need real-world examples.

Recent studies looked at people who were exposed to the coronavirus about a year ago.

“People who get vaccinated tend to have a little bit higher of an antibody response than people who have natural infection. If you’ve had the virus, we still recommend that you get the vaccine because that’s going to solidify and reinforce that immune response,” Dr. Willeford explained.

He said B Cells, produced in response to coronavirus exposure, get tucked away inside of our bone marrow and have a robust response when they’re called upon.

“It really creates a strong protection that you don’t get early on because your body hasn’t figured out exactly what the secret is to beat whatever invader has come again, and by that point, you have those memory, long-lasting memory B Cells in the bone marrow, you’re able to really turn up the heat on an infection and make it go away very quickly,” Dr. Willeford explained.

The COVID variants remain the wildcard in all of this, but Dr. Willeford said so far, people are getting good protection from those variants with the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, especially against the bad outcomes that could come with a COVID-19 infection.

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