Expert says COVID-19 severity likely impacts how long antibodies stick around

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Dr. Michael Teng, an associate professor in internal medicine at USF. Credit: WINK News.

Antibody testing is the key tool used to determine exposure to the coronavirus. But a new study shows that antibodies fade after a few months.

We spoke to an expert about how long antibodies to COVID-19 last in people and spoke to someone who tested positive for the virus Tuesday. The severity of the illness likely plays a role in how long antibodies last in people.

Jason Hartelius tested positive for COVID-19 back in march.

“It just eventually got to the point where just like I couldn’t breathe at all,” Hartelius said.

Three months later, and Hartelius still feeling the effects.

“I keep saying when this is over what I’m going to do,” Hartelius said. “And I have been hesitant to actually say it’s over yet.”

Now, the question is do Hartelius and other coronavirus patients have antibodies that will prevent them from getting COVID-19 again?

Dr. Anthony Fauci said spoke public Tuesday about this before a Congressional committee.

“We’re only a few months into this, so, A, we know that they make the antibody. B, it’s likely that they’re protected for some period of a time,” Fauci said before the committee. “We don’t know long how long that’s going to be.”

We spoke to Dr. Michael Teng, an associate professor in internal medicine at USF. He said it’s likely the severity of illness due to coronavirus impacts how long antibodies stick around.

“Those people who are asymptomatic seems like your antibodies kind of go away earlier than if you’re getting severe symptoms,” Dr. Teng said. “Like a deeper infection with the coronavirus, you seem to get a better antibody response.”

Teng says he worries those who contracted COVID-19 during the original onset of the pandemic could become sick again if there is a second outbreak.

Hartelius told us he won’t forget his last 100 days.

“You’re sitting there in a hospital with oxygen up your nose and a million wires in your arms and attached to your chest,” Hartelius said. “And you can’t help but think, am I going to get out of here?”

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