Two new studies suggest COVID-19 immunity following infection could last a year, or "possibly a lifetime, improving over time especially following vaccination" The New York Times reported on Wednesday, hopefully allaying "lingering fears that protection against the virus will be short-lived."
When taken together, the studies suggest most (but not all) vaccinated individuals who were previously infected with COVID-19 "will not need boosters," wrote the Times. Those who were vaccinated without having previously contracted the virus will likely need the extra dose. Experts expect immunity in these individuals to "play out very differently," as "immune memory" may look different following vaccination compared to natural infection.
"The papers are consistent with the growing body of literature that suggests that immunity elicited by infection and vaccination for SARS-CoV-2 appears to be long-lived," said Scott Hensley, an immunologist not involved in the studies. Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, a researcher for one of the studies, added he expects antibodies in those who were previously infected and later vaccinated to "last for a long time."
Results, however, also underscore the idea that previous infection is not enough to protect individuals long-term on its own — even those who have recovered should be vaccinated, wrote the Times. Read more at The New York Times.