There have been amazing new developments in the battle against the Wuhan coronavirus.

As Mary noted, both Moderna and Pfizer have created vaccines found to be over 90% effective in testing during late stage trials.

But there is even more: University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers recently completed a study and found immunity persists for at least several months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We clearly see high-quality antibodies still being produced five to seven months after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, Ph.D., associate professor, UArizona College of Medicine—Tucson, Department of Immunobiology. “Many concerns have been expressed about immunity against COVID-19 not lasting. We used this study to investigate that question and found immunity is stable for at least five months.”

The resulting paper, “Orthogonal SARS-CoV-2 Serological Assays Enable Surveillance of Low Prevalence Communities and Reveal Durable Humoral Immunity,” was published today in the journal Immunity. Dr. Bhattacharya and Janko Nikolich-Zugich, MD, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Immunobiology, led the research team.

When a virus first infects cells, the immune system deploys short-lived plasma cells that produce antibodies to immediately fight the virus. Those antibodies appear in blood tests within 14 days of infection.

Even better: A soon-to-be release study suggests that such immunity can last for years.

Eight months after infection, most people who have recovered still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, the new data shows. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests, happily, that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come.

…“That amount of memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology who co-led the new study.

The findings are likely to come as a relief to experts worried that immunity to the virus might be short-lived, and that vaccines might have to be administered repeatedly to keep the pandemic under control.

And the research squares with another recent finding: that survivors of SARS, caused by another coronavirus, still carry certain important immune cells 17 years after recovering.

Finally, the new treatments that have been developed rapidly in response to the pandemic crisis have reportedly led to a significant drop in mortality rates of elderly patients who become infected with the virus.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany presented a fatality chart showing deaths over time per hundred cases for various age ranges. According to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths have come down for every age group, especially for those over age 70 — the age range marked with a red line.

“That red line is a testament to what this President has done,” McEnany said Friday afternoon at a press conference. “Therapeutics, monoclonal antibodies — that is a recent one — that reduces hospitalization in high-risk seniors with moderate to mild COVID by 70 percent. That’s American ingenuity rising to the occasion, and President Trump oversaw all of this.”

A closer look at the chart:

And here is McEnany’s review of the data at the press conference.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t share this gem from that conference, in which McEnany tells CNN’s Kaitlin Collins, “I don’t call on activists,” at the conclusion of her press briefing.


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