What we know about COVID-19 antibodies after you’ve been infected

News

BUDA, Texas (KXAN) — It “wasn’t a terrible illness,” Brandon Dykes said.

Dykes contracted COVID-19 in March and then, so did the rest of his family. Luckily, they all had mild symptoms.

Dykes said they still had questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and now that his family has natural antibodies against the virus, they don’t feel the urgency to get one.

“We were still kind of weighing the pros and cons and deciding whether or not that was going to be something that we did but, you know, instantly that was, that was kind of foreshortened by our contracting [the] disease itself,” he said.

In June, the Cleveland Clinic released a study reporting that out of its more than 1,300 unvaccinated employees who previously had the coronavirus, none of them got re-infected.

But it said findings were preliminary and still encouraged everyone to get a vaccine.

The study also has not been peer-reviewed, or cross-checked by other experts.

A later report by the National Institutes for Health found that antibodies generated by the mRNA vaccine target more variants compared to antibodies acquired from an infection.

“The data provide further documentation that those who’ve had and recovered from a COVID-19 infection still stand to benefit from getting vaccinated,” it reads.

The CDC echoes that message, saying vaccines offer a strong boost in protection for recovered COVID-19 patients.

An infectious disease specialist with the Texas Medical Association says vaccines also give more antibodies.

“When you have the infection, the antibody levels that you get afterwards when you recover are significantly lower than the antibody levels generated by the mRNA vaccines used in the United States,” said Dr. Charles Lerner, who is also on the TMA’s COVID-19 task force.

“The lower your antibody level, the higher your breakthrough infection rate,” he added.

A May study from Washington University indicated that people recovered from COVID-19 may be able to produce antibodies their entire life.

But Lerner says you have to factor in how quickly the body can ramp up that antibody production when it’s exposed to the virus again, and what the incubation period is for the disease. He says if the incubation period is short enough, you will catch the disease.

Right now, 63% of people in Travis County are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health leaders say one of the biggest challenges is convincing people who’ve had the virus to get vaccinated.

But Dykes feels it’s unfair to lump those who have natural antibodies with others who refuse to get the vaccine for other reasons.

He says he isn’t an “anti-vaxxer,” or someone who doesn’t believe in vaccines, but just “vaccine conscious.”

All his children are up-to-date on their shots, for example, but they spaced those apart, instead of getting them all at the same time.

“Those of us that have had COVID and feel like we’re protected, we’re not trying to kill grandma. We’re just making a personal decision,” he said. “You don’t know my situation, so before you make a blanket statement about what a horrible person I am for not going and getting the vaccine, why don’t you maybe do a little research and find out why?”

Dykes says he gets tested for antibodies regularly and doesn’t see the need for extra antibodies through a vaccine until his own run out.

“If the CDC says… the kids have to go mask, then the kids go mask. If the CDC says everyone needs to stay home, then we stay home,” he said. “But… I just don’t think that that is going to necessarily extend to getting the vaccine until we’re out of antibodies and then at that point we may make another decision.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Austin-Travis County

Tracking the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Cases Tracker

Latest Central Texas COVID-19 Cases

Trending Stories

Don't Miss