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Antibodies: What We Know and What We Don’t

Before 2020, the word antibodies was probably something only slightly familiar to the average American, but with months of the COVID-19 pandemic already behind us, the word could be the key to a return to normal life.

You may be wondering: What is an antibody?

Antibodies are defined as disease-specific proteins that will help fight diseases. These tiny, special parts of us can provide immunity so that we do not get that disease again. Research shows that those who recover from COVID-19 may have immunity for at least 5-7 months, but nothing is definite thus far. New findings show that antibodies can be stronger or weaker depending on individual biology which attributes to length variation of the antibodies in the system.

A vector illustration representing the Earth wearing a mask.
Photo from Pixabay

For Elana Abramovitz, a University of Michigan Freshman, life has been all but normal this year. As a dorm resident, she was not allowed to eat in the dining hall or go into her friends’ rooms because the University deemed it unsafe. Remarkably, the place that aimed to keep her so safe ultimately resulted in her retrieval of the virus. After ten days of isolation following her positive COVID-19 test result, Elana still faced the same dorm restrictions, even though she has antibodies. Other aspects of her life have changed though. When considering travel plans, Elana remarked, “Now I have one less thing to think about. This whole semester I had been worrying about going back home, and unknowingly bringing the virus back to my parents, but now that’s a nonissue and I can worry about the thousand other things I need to do for moving out.”

Anna Shvets via Pexels

An overwhelming number of people who had no COVID-19 symptoms flocked to get tested for antibodies over the summer. The reason why? If they unknowingly already had the virus, they could stop worrying, at least for a while. Even though we don’t know how long exactly antibodies last, most scientists agree that if one has them in their system, they won’t contract the virus again during that time. Doctors across the country are making antibody tests widely acceptable.


Practically, having antibodies won’t change anyone’s operation in the public; masks are still required for service at most stores and restaurants, temperature checks are mandated at many workplaces, and the virus can still stick to the clothing of an immune individual who may then transfer those germs to others. Having antibodies will not make life go back to normal, but at least those who have already gone through the terrors of the virus can rest assured that they will not get it again any time soon. Whether or not you have antibodies, stay safe, everyone!

Hi! I'm a Sophomore at the University of Michigan studying Communications and Writing. I'm a South Florida native, so you can find me bundled up in the library studying when I'm not working out or reading books.
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