Children infected with COVID-19 have natural antibodies that last for 7 months

HOUSTON — Children who get COVID-19 have natural antibodies that last for about seven months, according to a new study. But scientists say vaccines are still vital in order for them to get the best protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The study also shows that antibodies last the same amount of time in children whether they were asymptomatic or it was severe. It also does not matter whether they are at a healthy weight or obese, and there is also no difference by gender.

In the study, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) examined data from 218 children between the ages of 5 and 19 who were enrolled in the Texas CARES study. The project assesses antibody status over time. Volunteers provided researchers with three separate blood draws, once during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and again during the Delta and Omicron variants.

The study finds that 96 percent of the children infected with COVID-19 continued to have antibodies up to seven months later. Over half (58 percent) were negative for infection-induced antibodies at their third and final measurement.

To date, more than 14 million kids in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus. Study authors say even after their findings, it’s still wise for parents to have their kids vaccinated.

“Adult literature shows us that natural infection, plus the vaccine-induced protection, gives you the best defense against COVID-19,” says study co-author Sarah Messiah, a professor of epidemiology, human genetics, and environmental sciences at the school’s Dallas campus, in a statement. “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. While our study is encouraging in that some amount of 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.”

The study is published in Pediatrics.

South West News Service writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.