UK-wide study shows antibodies persist for at least two months in children who have had COVID-19

1,000 children from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, known as ‘COVID Warriors’ have had their levels of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies measured during the first wave of the pandemic and repeated again two months after initial recruitment.

The study is led by Dr Tom Waterfield from the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust Northern Ireland. 

The aim of the study, which began in May and is ongoing, is to assess the number of children who have had COVID-19, the symptomatology of infection and the kinetics of the antibody response in children. 

The researchers have found that antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 persisted beyond two months in all children. Unlike other studies, this is one of the first to report on follow up blood results in children and provides an early insight into how the antibody response evolves over time. 

Dr Tom Waterfield lead on the study said: “These results show that the antibody response to COVID-19 infection in children seems to be holding firm at two months and that antibodies are likely to persist for some time. This provides renewed hope that children may develop a lasting immunity to infection.” 

Health and Social Care Research & Development Division (HSC R&D Division) of the Public Health Agency plays an ongoing role in supporting the conduct of high-quality health and social care research and has provided funding to support the delivery of this important study. 

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of HSC Research and Development said: “Research studies continue to play an ongoing, vital role in the pandemic response; as the COVID Warriors study tests children at multiple timepoints, we now know more about the SARS-CoV-2 antibody response and its behaviour over time.  Such findings will be of great value to help inform our decision-making, and planning of appropriate measures to protect our population.”

The study is supported by funding from HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency, The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and is also subsidised by a donation from the Queen’s Foundation thanks to a past graduate of the University through a charitable gift in their will. 

It is being delivered in partnership with The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, the Ulster Independent Clinic, NHS Glasgow and Greater Clyde, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. 

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