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BSI response to paper commenting on COVID-19 immunity

15 June 2020

New research analysing COVID-19 antibody tests from 177 diagnosed individuals has been released in a joint paper from St George’s, University of London, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Mologic Ltd. and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Sénégal. This research has currently been released on medRxiv as a pre-print and has not yet been through peer-review.

In response, the BSI has released the following statement:


Professor Danny Altmann, British Society for Immunology spokesperson and Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London, said:

“This paper is currently a pre-print and is yet to undergo peer-review. It reports SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in relation to markers of severity in 177 people hospitalised with COVID-19. It’s a useful addition to the plethora of such antibody studies appearing from cohorts around the world. We learn from this that around 90% of individuals make an antibody response, this is still detected out to 2-months, and it’s not enormously influenced by the age, gender or respiratory symptoms of the people studied.

While it’s reassuring that most have antibodies at 2 months, it would be remarkable for an immune response not to last this long – our real concern is to see what happens at 1 or 2 years, for which we need to wait and see. The flip-side of their data is the question of what is happening in the 10% or so who produce no antibody. If you extrapolate to global figures, it means that of the estimated 8 million or so cases globally, some 800,000 carry no protective antibody. Whether other parts of the immune response such as T cells could protect these people remains to be seen.”


Read the full paper that this statement is in response to:

“Dynamics of IgG seroconversion and pathophysiology of COVID-19 infections” medRxiv 2020.06.07.20124636; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.07.20124636