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World’s Longest Study of Ebola Concludes

Immunity from the deadly Ebola virus could last years after the infection, the world’s longest study of survivors by British and Guinean scientists has concluded in findings that could have implications for Covid immunity research. The findings are the result of the world’s longest and most comprehensive study of survivors from the devastating West African outbreak between 2013 and 2016. They could help the understanding of the body’s immune response to Covid and other zoonotic diseases. A recent study suggested antibodies for Covid may only last two months, leading to speculation that immunity to the virus may not be long-lived and those who have recovered would be at risk of reinfection. The team of scientists in Guinea found that some Ebola survivors there showed no antibodies three months after the infection even though they would have to mount a strong response to fight such a lethal virus. The study is the largest of its kind in the world, allowing the scientists to “uniquely assess both neutralising antibody and T cell responses” by taking blood samples over three years from 117 survivors, 66 contacts and 23 negative control subjects in Guinea. Their study reveals that 95% of survivors had both antibodies and a T cell response to the virus and there was “no significant reduction” in either antibodies or the T cells more than three years after infection. These results suggest naturally acquired immunity is 10 times higher than that delivered by the new Ebola vaccine, which was successfully used in the most recent 2018-19 outbreak in Africa.