Even mild infections of Covid-19 caused the body to produce antibodies that lingered in the body and could sometimes turn on its host's own tissues a study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine reported. The study was conducted on 177 volunteers at the Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
The volunteers, all health workers who had contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus, showed elevated levels of antibodies after infection. The samples were taken before vaccines were widely available. The antibody levels meant there was increased risk of inflammation, joint pain and other issues researchers said.
"We would not normally expect to see such a diverse array of autoantibodies elevated in these individuals or stay elevated for as long six months after full clinical recovery," said Susan Cheng of the Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute. "We don't yet know how much longer, beyond six months, the antibodies will stay elevated and/or lead to any important clinical symptoms...It will be essential to monitor individuals moving forward."
Cheng and her team are also looking into whether the presence of elevated antibody levels is what is causing suffering in those who contract "long COVID" where the effects of the illness linger long past recovery.
"Early studies reported that while men and women have similar prevalence, men with COVID-19 are at greater risk for worse outcomes and death independent of age... Consistent with these findings, conventional inflammatory markers are founded to be more substantially elevated in men compared to women who are hospitalized for COVID-19," the study said.
The study also marks the importance of vaccination, as it has shown to reduce lingering effects of Covid-19 and protect against severe forms of infection.
Another, non-peer reviewed study reported by bioRxiv shows that while immune B-cell response to Omicron is weakened, the cells begin producing antibodies to compensate soon after exposure which explains why the virus may not be as deadly as Delta. The results of the study promise a clue as to why vaccinated individuals have much milder infections overall.