According to a new study, even though most people who experienced a mild case of COVID-19 have antibodies a year after, that is not to say that they are protected from any new variants.
On Thursday, a research team from the University of Adelaide reported via medRxiv that out of 43 Australians who had a mild case of COVID at the beginning of the pandemic, 90 percent of them still had antibodies a year later.
However, only a little over half of them (51.2 percent) had antibodies that showed “neutralizing activity” against the initial form of the virus.
Furthermore, only 44.2 percent had antibodies capable of neutralizing the alpha variant.
As for neutralizing the highly transmissible delta variant, which is also the most dominant form of the virus currently, only 16.2 percent of them were protected.
In the case of gamma and beta variants, the results were even bleaker, with 11.6 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.
What this shows, according to the researchers, is that people who suffer from a mild case of COVID “are vulnerable to infection with circulating and newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants 12 months after recovery.”
The results “reinforce the potential benefit” of tailoring booster vaccines to current variants just like flu vaccines are also modified and adapted every year based on influenza strains.
Meanwhile, over 40 percent of COVID-19 survivors all over the world suffer from long COVID, meaning that they get long-lasting symptoms, as per researchers from the University of Michigan.
This conclusion is based on their review of no less than forty previous studies from seventeen countries that analyzed people’s experience with long COVID.
Among those who need hospitalization, the prevalence of long COVID raises to 57 percent.
As for the most common lingering side effects, fatigue seems to be the most prevalent, affecting an estimated 23 percent of patients.
Meanwhile, shortness of breath, memory problems and joint pain affect 13 percent of the patients each.
The researchers mentioned that their study most likely did not manage to look at all long COVID cases worldwide.
They said that “Based on a WHO (World Health Organization) estimate of 237 million worldwide COVID-19 infections, this global pooled … estimate indicates that around 100 million individuals currently experience or have previously experienced long-term health-related consequences of COVID-19.”
They went on to warn that these prolonged health problems after healing from COVID “can exert marked stress on the healthcare system.”