High Levels of Important Antibody Seen in Those with Severe COVID

Health care workers were significantly more likely to become infected and have severe symptoms, the study found.

Individuals who had a severe case of COVID-19 or experience long-lasting cases of the disease are more likely to have a higher level of an important antibody which helps fight a future infection, according to a study conducted by investigators at Rutgers University.

Results from the study were published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“Neurological changes, including brain fog and problems with memory or vision, were infrequent among infected participants but did tend to last for many months when they occurred," Daniel B. Horton, a co-author on the study said. "Notably, having persistent symptoms was also associated with having higher antibody levels over time. We know from other research that vaccination further enhances immune protection and sometimes even helps ease long-term symptoms.”

The study was part of the Rutgers Corona Cohort Study, which followed 548 healthcare workers, along with 283 non-healthcare workers, from the beginning of the pandemic so that they could better understand risk factors, antibody responses and symptoms associated with a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Findings from the study showed that within 6 months from when the study started, more than 93 of the participants had tested positive for the virus or for antibodies. Of those, 24 had severe symptoms and 14 were asymptomatic.

The study also found that healthcare workers were significantly more likely to become infected and have severe symptoms.

Around one-third of the participants showed symptoms which lasted for at least 1 month, including fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell.

Additionally, the majority of the infected participants developed sustained antibodies which last up to 6 months. However, more of those with the severe symptoms were seen to have antibodies compared to those with mild to moderate symptoms.

“One-third of infected participants had symptoms lasting 1 month or longer. Fatigue, respiratory, and neurologic symptoms lasted for months in at least 10% of affected individuals,” the authors wrote. “Participants with prolonged symptoms, who were generally more severely symptomatic, also tended to have higher antibody levels over time. Going forward, this cohort of uninfected and infected, seropositive and seronegative, participants will allow further investigation of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, risks factors for re-infection, and relationships between infection and vaccine responses.”

This article originally appeared inContagion®.