'Safe for now': SoCal doctor explains new data suggesting COVID-19 antibodies could wane

A new study finds antibodies from people who recovered from COVID-19 seem to diminish after just a few months. What could this potentially tell us about our immunity and should those who have overcome the coronavirus be alarmed?
As coronavirus cases continue to surge in Southern California, some major decisions are made about sending kids back into the classroom. Will it help flatten the curve?
And new research suggests COVID-19 antibodies may wane after just a few months. What does that mean in the long run?

Dr. Anthony Cardillo, CEO of Mend Urgent Care and ER specialist, joined ABC7 via Skype to discuss.

A new study finds antibodies from people who recovered from COVID-19 seem to fade after a few months. What does that potentially tell us about immunity?
"The antibody response is just one response in a very complex, you know immune system. So just because the antibodies are rising very rapidly and then dropping, it doesn't mean that the rest of our immunity is not there fighting off the virus," said Cardillo. "This is most likely going to be a seasonal virus, for example, this is not a virus like the chickenpox where are you get it once in your life and your immune system covers you forever. This is more like an influenza virus where every season your body has to deal with the genetic shifting that happens every single year with these types of viruses. And so just because you mounted a very strong response that then is waxing is not cause for major concern. We were anticipating this because we were anticipating this is going to be a seasonal virus."

Cardillo says the data is strong enough to support that if you were infected this season, your immune system will keep you safe until next season, which will be this upcoming winter.

"At least you're safe for now," Cardillo said.

L.A. Unified School District announced it will not be reopening school campuses in the fall. What's your take and will that effort help keep new cases down?

"We know that we have two large groups of people to protect - is the children and also the teachers. With more than half of our teachers being over age 50 and so, it's a really touchy topic because I don't think at this juncture we have our hands on this virus enough so that we can comfortably say to those teachers, 'you are going to be safe.' I think we're going to spend the next probably six months trying to figure out how to do that," said Cardillo.

Cardillo goes on to say he believes it is a wise decision on behalf of school district administrators to help keep everyone safe.

Ask the doctor: Diane from Sherman Oaks wants to know: "We've heard of false positive test results, but is there any discussion of false negative tests, particularly with the city's free program? If a result comes back negative, but symptoms persist, what should be your next course of action?"
"The false-negative concept is a much bigger concern for us in medicine then the false-positive," said Cardillo. "Unfortunately, the majority of the tests that are out there are not very sensitive. The only ones that are really sensitive are the ones that the large lab companies are administering. Those are the ones that are approaching, you know greater than, let's say 90% sensitivity."

Cardillo says smaller tests being conducted are poorly sensitive and could have up to 50% false-negative rate.

Watch the full interview in the video above.

Can you eventually lose your immunity to coronavirus after recovering?
EMBED More News Videos

One of the first COVID-19 patients in California says his doctors noticed a disturbing trend: the number of antibodies in his system began diminishing, leading to worries about reinfection.



Thinking of getting a COVID-19 antibody test? Here's what you should know
EMBED More News Videos

Data from antibody tests help track the spread of the coronavirus - but they have limitations.



Study finds silent transmission could be responsible for half of COVID-19 cases
EMBED More News Videos

New research indicates asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases are a primary driver behind the virus spreading to others.

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.