COVID – How Long are You Protected?

Dr. Amy Davis

by Dr. Amy Davis, MD 

There is a lot of information and misinformation about COVID immunity from various sources. Much of the information has been speculative and emotional. People are confused as to who they can believe and are looking for better answers. I am frequently asked by my patients “How long am I protected after I have COVID? After getting the Vaccine? or the Booster?” It is also common for patients to not be sure if they had a case of COVID, or not. To answer these very important questions I find it helpful to check antibodies to COVID. 

Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to help our bodies fight viruses. Doctors can test antibody levels in the blood to help determine whether a patient has had an infection or has immunity to a specific infection like COVID. There are two types of antibodies that are helpful. COVID nucleocapsid antibodies and COVID spike protein antibodies. There is also an early antibody response (IgM) which comes after a recent infection and a later antibody response which occurs within weeks of having an infection or vaccination (IgG) and is maintained for a longer period. In general antibody levels appear to be maintained by most patients for somewhere around eight to 12 months. My testing has yet to see evidence of immune protection from a COVID infection or vaccines beyond 12 months. I have also seen patients that have a shorter and weaker response. The immune response seems to vary with the individual. This is another reason that antibody testing provides useful information for decision making. 

For natural immunity (evidence of immunity from having a case of COVID) nucleocapsid antibodies can be checked. Presence of these antibodies indicate a history of a COVID infection. In the vaccinated population it is common to have a very mild case or even asymptomatic case so you may not even realize you had COVID. It’s helpful to know this as it adds to your protection. Sometimes patients believe they had COVID but have no antibodies therefore they either didn’t have a case, or it’s been long enough since they had COVID that they no longer have antibody protection. 

COVID Spike protein antibodies can be checked for evidence of immune response to the vaccines and boosters. 

In the event a vaccinated patient also gets COVID then both the spike protein antibodies and nucleocapsid antibodies can help to clarify the extent of immune response from both. 

We are accepting new patients. 

Dr. Amy Davis M.D. 
Crossing Back to Health
485 Wildwood Parkway Suite 2
Ballwin, MO 63011 
Phone: 636 778-9158

For more information visit us at www.crossingbacktohealth.com