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Kids' natural COVID-19 antibodies may only last for seven months, study finds

Experts say this holds up regardless of how severe or symptomatic kids’ infections were

COVID-19 and blood cells
Photo (c) ExperienceInteriors - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center explored how long children’s natural antibodies last following a COVID-19 infection. According to their findings, kids are likely to have effective antibodies for seven months after testing positive for the virus.

“This is the first study from the Texas CARES survey that includes data from all three time points in the survey,” said researcher Sarah Messiah, Ph.D.

“These findings are important because the information we collected from children infected with COVID-19 didn’t differ at all by whether a child was asymptomatic, severity of symptoms, when they had the virus, were at a healthy weight or had obesity, or by gender. It was the same for everyone.”  

Antibody protection lasts for several months

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 220 kids between the ages of 5 and 19 enrolled in the Texas CARES study. Participants had their blood drawn at three different points over the course of the study, which the researchers used to measure their antibody levels. 

The study showed that children tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies for several months after infection. More than 95% of the kids involved in the study had strong antibody protection for seven months after testing positive for COVID-19. However, nearly 60% of the participants didn’t have detectable levels of antibodies by the final blood test. 

Although these findings are important to understanding how long kids are likely to have natural antibodies to protect against COVID-19, the study didn’t look at the impact of COVID-19 vaccines. 

“Adult literature shows us that natural infection, plus the vaccine-induced protection, gives you the best defense against COVID-19,” said Dr. Messiah.

“There has been a misunderstanding from some parents who think just because their child has had COVID-19, they are now protected and don’t need to get the vaccine. While our study is encouraging in that some amount of natural antibodies last at least six months in children, we still don’t know the absolute protection threshold. We have a great tool available to give children additional protection by getting their vaccine, so if your child is eligible, take advantage of it.” 

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