A new study of the British population shows that antibodies in the human body fighting COVID-19 declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, suggesting any immunity against the virus may not last long.
The study, conducted by Imperial College London and published Tuesday, involved tests on more than 365,000 British people between June 20 and Sept. 28.
In their findings, the researchers’ analysis of the home finger-prick tests found that the number of people testing positive for antibodies dropped by 26.5% during the study period, from almost 6% to 4.4%.
The findings suggest the possibility of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.
The researchers say it is unclear what level of protection antibodies give a person against COVID-19 specifically.
Imperial College London Department of Infectious Disease head, Wendy Barclay, told reporters in London they are confident in what a decline in antibodies tells them.
“On the balance of evidence, I would say with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level.”
The researchers say that more than anything, the study reinforces the need for a vaccine to effectively bring the virus under control.