Israeli Study: Recovered COVID Patients Have Better Antibodies, but Vaccines Are Safer
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JERUSALEM, Israel – New research from Israeli scientists suggests that the number of COVID-19 antibodies falls over time in both vaccinated and recovered individuals, but the performance of the antibodies gradually improves only in those who recovered from the virus.
The study was conducted by Dr. Carmit Cohen of the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan and will be presented this upcoming April at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases conference.
In the analysis, Dr. Cohen and her team documented the immune responses of 130 patients who contracted COVID-19 and compared it with 402 patients who had never been infected but received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. They specifically tested the avidity index (antibody performance quality) in 16 recovered and 22 vaccinated individuals.
They found that after a month, the number of antibodies in vaccinated individuals is higher than in recovered patients, but declined more quickly. In addition, the avidity index was higher in recovered patients, meaning their antibodies performed better over time.
“While the number of antibodies decreases with time in both COVID-19 recovered patients and vaccinated individuals, the quality of antibodies increases following infection but not after vaccination,” the researchers said.
This suggests that recovered individuals may be better protected against reinfection, but more tests are needed, Dr. Cohen says.
Dr. Cohen tells CBN News these results specifically apply to people who were infected with the original COVID variant, and her team is still studying the antibody performance in those infected with the Delta and Omicron variants.
The researchers also documented a phenomenon in recovered patients that vaccinated individuals didn’t experience: long-term side effects known as “long COVID.”
Of all recovered patients, 36% of individuals suffered from mental, neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory issues after surviving an infection.
This reality is why Dr. Cohen says vaccines are superior to natural infection.
Side effects from vaccines are “very, very minor, especially after the third vaccination,” she says. “Nothing that is so pronounced like the long COVID that we see even after mild cases.”
She continues, “I would not recommend to not get vaccinated. Especially because [of] this long-COVID manifestation, which for many people [is] very long and distressing and really life-changing.”
Dr. Cohen’s team also made an unexpected discovery in their research: “previously infected patients with obesity had a higher and more sustained immune response and protection than overweight and normal weight range patients.”
She says this finding needs more research but could speak to the heavy toll the virus has on obese individuals.
Obese patients tend to suffer more severe COVID cases than others, therefore “their immune system has to work harder,” Dr. Cohen explains.
“Because they started with higher antibodies than people with under 30 BMIs…they keep a higher immune response for [longer],” she says. “We think this is because initially, they have a higher response because the disease is harder.”
Dr. Cohen is currently conducting more research on infected and vaccinated people and hopes to release the results soon.
“Hopefully, we have robust data that we will be able to add to the knowledge that we’ve already gained from COVID-19 and hopefully to help predictions, the development of vaccines, and policy-making,” says. Dr. Cohen.
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