A Western Mass News viewer reached out to our newsroom with questions about COVID-19 antibody testing and natural immunity. More specifically, they were wondering if testing positive for antibodies would have any impact on whether or not you should get a booster shot.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A Western Mass News viewer reached out to our newsroom with questions about COVID-19 antibody testing and natural immunity. More specifically, they were wondering if testing positive for antibodies would have any impact on whether or not you should get a booster shot.

“The antibody basically is a natural substance produced by a body to basically neutralize the virus. It can be elicited by either vaccination or natural infection,” said Dr. Armando Paez, chief of infectious disease at Baystate Health.

A Western Mass News viewer, who had COVID-19 in January, said they are still testing positive for antibodies. While this is the case, they're still being urged to get a booster shot.

They reached out to our newsroom confused about the difference between natural immunity and immunization and they were wondering who actually needs to be vaccinated.

"I have had COVID-19 (the first week of January 2021). I just got tested in October and still have antibodies. Do I need an immunity shot if my body is doing the job on its own?" the viewer wrote.

So Western Mass News took their questions straight to Paez.

“As it stands, as soon as you recover, you can still benefit from it, but we don’t know the exact answer if you need it or not because you actually have a third exposure to the virus and you may actually elicit a response again and may not need the booster shot,” Paez noted.

Paez said there are different types of antibody testing that can be done, but antibodies that come from COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine boosters are easier to track and predict than those that are natural.

“There is one that is semi-quantitative, which means they try to quantitate the level. Some are qualitative, meaning there is presence of antibodies or there is not…The antibody waning…we know that for about six months as opposed to some natural infection depending on how severe the infection is, you know, by two months the level of neutralizing antibodies goes down to a level that is not detectable by testing,” Paez explained.

Antibodies can typically be detected one to two weeks after recovering from COVID-19, but Paez said that can differ from patient to patient.

“For natural infection, as I mentioned, it depends, it’s a spectrum because there are mild infections in individuals who didn’t have a lot of virus and may not actually develop enough antibodies,” Paez added.

Paez said it's important to remember recommendations can and most likely will change as medical experts continue to learn more about the virus.

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(1) comment

angrybananapeel

Thanks for a clear and concise answer. Just shut up and take the shot, science denier.

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