According to a recent study headed by UTHealth Houston researchers, children who have previously been infected with COVID-19 acquire natural circulating antibodies that persist at least seven months.
The report was published in Pediatrics today.
Researchers analysed data from 218 children aged 5 to 19 from around Texas who participated in the Texas CARES study, which began in October 2020 with the purpose of measuring COVID-19 antibody status across time among a community of adults and children in Texas.
Volunteers who participated in the study gave researchers three independent blood draws. Before the vaccine was released, as well as during the Delta and Omicron versions, samples were gathered. Investigators have completed three separate phases of the study to date.
“This is the first study from the Texas CARES survey that includes data from all three time points in the survey,” said Sarah Messiah, PhD, MPH, corresponding author of the study and professor of epidemiology, human genetics, and environmental sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health Dallas campus. “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.”
While 96 percent of individuals infected with COVID-19 had antibodies up to seven months later, more than half (58 percent) of the sample tested negative for infection-induced antibodies at the third and final assessment. The findings do not take into account the effect of vaccination protection.
According to Messiah, the Texas CARES findings are only the first step in studying the virus’s impact on infants. According to her, 14 million children in the United States have tested positive for the virus to date.
“Adult literature shows us that natural infection, plus the vaccine-induced protection, gives you the best defense against COVID-19. 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 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,” Messiah said.
Story Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston