Study: Most unvaccinated children lack antibodies after COVID-19 infection

A study released last week has shown that most children and adolescents who have had a COVID-19 infection do not have antibodies in their blood after recovering from the virus, Reuters reported.

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The study, conducted by researchers in Texas and published in the journal Pediatrics, began in October 2020 and followed 218 people between the ages of 5 and 19 who had had the COVID-19 virus.

Of the 218 participants in the study, 90% had not received a vaccination when they enrolled in the study. The children and adolescents in the study provided a blood sample on three occasions, once every three months.

According to the study results, the first round of blood tests showed infection-related antibodies in about one-third of the children. The second round of tests, taken three months after the first, showed that half of those who had antibodies in the first test, still had antibodies.

The results, according to researchers, underline the need for vaccinations for children ages 5-19, even if the child has had a COVID-19 infection.

“Some parents... think just because their child has had COVID-19, they are now protected and don’t need to get the vaccine,” Sarah Messiah of UTHealth School of Public Health Dallas, said in a statement.

Messiah said, “We have a great tool available to give children additional protection by getting their vaccine.”

The study was designed to detect the presence of antibodies, researchers said. Antibodies are only part of the immune system’s defenses.

Researchers also said there was no difference in antibody levels based on whether a participant was male or female, was showing symptoms of COVID-19, had severe COVID-19 symptoms or when they had the infection.

“It was the same for everyone,” Messiah said in a statement.

Reuters noted that a study published earlier this month in JAMA Network Open also suggested that most children infected with COVID-19 do not have antibodies in their blood afterward.