Children who have been infected with COVID-19 acquire natural circulating antibodies that persist at least seven months, according to a new study headed by the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
The research was published in the ‘Pediatrics’ publication. Researchers looked at data from 218 children aged 5 to 19 from around Texas who were recruited in the Texas CARES study, which began in October 2020 with the purpose of measuring COVID-19 antibody status across time in a population of adults and children in Texas.
Three different blood draws were performed on volunteers who enrolled in the study. Before the vaccination was sent out, as well as during the Delta and Omicron variations, samples were taken. Investigators have completed three phases of the study to date.
Sarah Messiah, PhD, MPH, corresponding author of the study and professor of epidemiology, human genetics, and environmental sciences at the UT Health School of Public Health Dallas campus, said, “This is the first study from the Texas CARES survey that includes data from all three time points in the survey.”
“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, the 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,” she said.
While 96 per cent of those infected with COVID-19 continued to have antibodies up to seven months later, well over half (58 per cent) of the sample were negative for infection-induced antibodies at their third and final measurement. The findings do not include the impact of vaccine protection.
The results of Texas CARES, Messiah said, are just a step in understanding the virus’s impact on children. To date, 14 million kids in the US have tested positive for the virus, she said.
“Adult literature shows us that natural infection, plus the vaccine-induced protection, gives you the best defence 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,” she added.
“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 concluded.