Study shows coronavirus antibodies present six months after illness

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Coronavirus testing. Source: Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

Those who survive the coronavirus have antibodies six months later but it is not clear how well they protect the patient from infection, scientists at a conference at the University of Tartu said on Thursday.

The antibody study conducted during the first wave of coronavirus in Estonia shows significantly more people suffered from the coronavirus in Saaremaa and Tallinn's Õismäe district than reported in the official statistics, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Piia Jõgi, a doctoral lecturer at the Tartu University Hospital, said 1.5 percent of the patients on the list of Järveots Family Medicine Center in Tallinn had been exposed to the virus. 

"This means that three out of 200 people had been exposed to the coronavirus. The number of people exposed in Saaremaa was about four times higher, or 6.3 percent," said Jõgi.

A further study has showed there was no hidden spread of the virus in eight Estonian counties.

Another study showed patients were still experiencing the effects of the virus six months later, whether they had had a severe or mild case.

Tartu University Hospital doctoral lecturer Anne Kallaste said disorders around taste and smell had been seen which "significantly disrupts" patients' quality of life.

More than 10,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Estonia and approximately 80 percent experience only mild symptoms while 18 percent need hospital treatment and 5 percent of patients are admitted to intensive care.

Professor of epidemiology at the University of Tartu Anneli Uusküla explained that the infection is equal in age and gender. "In other words, it is a very democratic virus. But it seems that the disease is more difficult for men," said Uusküla.

Studies showed that almost all patients still had antibodies six months after they were first infected.

"At the same time, we do not know what level of protection exists. I have also emphasized to all the patients that re-infection may be possible. They must also follow the restrictions which are recommended to everyone. That this does not mean that a person who suffered from the disease once will be protected indefinitely," Anne Kallaste said. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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