ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- If you’ve had a mild case of COVID-19, a new study shows you could have protection that lasts a lifetime. According to a new study from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, those who have had mild COVID-19 still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that could persist for life.

Dr. Ali Ellebedy, PhD, an associate professor of pathology and immunology, said his findings quash rumors that antibody protection only lasts 90 days.

"That is exactly why we started the study,” Dr. Ellebedy said. “We knew that this was a misunderstanding of how our immune response works.”

Dr. Ellebedy said during an initial COVID-19 infection, certain antibody-producing cells plateau and eventually die off, which is the reason some antibody tests may show they’re no longer present. However, what remains are long-living cells found in our bone marrow that can produce antibodies for a lifetime.

“These cells have been generated as part of the immune response and they live at this stage for a very long period and continue to secrete antibodies,” Dr. Ellebedy said.

People who’ve had mild COVID-19 and are vaccinated are said to be “super protected.” But with the virus ever-changing, researchers said COVID antibodies only give partial protection. Dr. Ellebedy is urging even those who’ve had mild COVID-19 symptoms to get vaccinated to protect against variants.

“The chances of getting protection against variants increases significantly and that’s the advantage that we are seeing in people who have experienced the infection before,” Dr. Ellebedy said.

It's important to note long-lasting antibodies have only been found in people who have had mild cases of COVID-19. Researchers did not test those who had severe cases or were hospitalized. 

If you’d like to read more about the research study, click here. 

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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