How strong are your antibodies against COVID-19? Research shows it depends on age, gender
AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A new study by researchers from Texas found that levels of antibodies in women and younger people are higher than in men after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Texas Biomedical Research Institute — in collaboration with the University of Verona, Italy — conducted the largest study in the world on the prevalence of antibodies over time. While it’s now well known that vaccine antibodies decline after six months, the study found specifics about: how a lot, and the age and gender difference plays into antibody levels.
The findings are based on a group of 787 health professionals in Italy, ranging in age from 21 to 75 years, who received two doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Their antibody levels were measured before vaccination, after the second dose and one, three and six months after the second injection.
dr. Brandon Michael Henry, one of the lead scientists in the study, said the study results were consistent with trends during the pandemic.
After six months, women and younger people usually have higher peak levels of antibodies than men and people 65 and older.
“We have observed during the pandemic that more older people and men are experiencing the worst effects of COVID-19,” Henry says. “These studies point to a weaker immune response to SARS-CoV-2 as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.”
Henry said that after six months, people also had different levels of different types of antibodies.
“We found that the antibodies that prevent serious disease tend to persist. That’s the ones that go down by about 50% after six months. But when we looked at those that are along the respiratory tract, for example, and that each type breakthrough infection, we found that about half of people have no detectable levels of those antibodies after six months,” said Dr. Brandon Michael Henry, one of the lead scientists in the study.
He said this is why those who qualify should get the booster vaccine to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19 even after they have been vaccinated. Henry and other doctors emphasize that this does not mean that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective, as it is normal for immunity to wane over time.
“These vaccines work remarkably well … we’re going to have to boost in the future and there will probably be more vaccines in the future as we see more variants,” Henry said. ‘But they are marvels of modern medicine. They really prevent our hospital system from becoming overwhelmed, keep people out of the hospitals, make sure you don’t die and get to see your relatives and enjoy life.”