Catching Covid doesn't guarantee you antibody protection afterwards – especially for smokers

CATCHING Covid doesn't mean you are guaranteed natural antibody protection afterwards, a study has found.

People who smoke and who have generally poor health are most at risk of not developing the antibodies, ZOE Covid Study research discovered.

One in five of the people involved in the study didn't test positive for anti-N antibodies – which come from a natural infection.

This indicates that they could be at increased risk of future Covid infection, and become seriously ill.

So vaccines are critical even for people who have recovered from the virus.

The study tested the blood of 8,000 people and found 19 per cent showed no signs of natural virus-fighting antibodies to protect them from a second illness.

Blood tests found that only 81 per cent of people developed immunity after catching the bug, meaning many were still left unprotected.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app, said: “Our data shows that the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19, even if you have had the virus previously, is to have two doses of vaccine and the booster when offered.

"While antibodies seem to endure following natural infection, 1 in 5 people won’t get any clear protective benefit from their infection, especially if they had mild or asymptomatic infection, or if they have comorbidities or unhealthy habits like smoking. 

"It’s interesting to observe that, unlike vaccination, it’s not just older, frailer or overweight adults who gain least protection from a previous infection, but rather anyone with poorer overall health.

"This supports our previous findings that have shown longer term protection gained from the Covid-19 vaccines is more effective than natural antibodies gained from infection.”

People who did develop antibodies usually had more symptoms while unwell, and appeared to suffer from the classic three – fever, cough and loss of smell or taste.

And those who didn't develop the natural protection tended to have long term health problems or were a current smoker.

Dr Claire Steves, scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app: What is interesting here is that not everyone who had natural infection had antibodies which sustain over time. 

"This underlines the importance of getting vaccinated even if you have had exposure to the virus. 

"Our data show that this is particularly important for people with other pre-existing health conditions and people who smoke.”

Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated is able to go to a walk in centre or book a slot.

The Government has kept the offer of being protected against the killer virus as "evergreen", hoping to get everyone fully jabbed.


It comes as the Prime Minister yesterday admitted "too many elderly people" are ending up in hospital with Covid as he warned Britain faces a "tough winter".

The PM urged more people to come forward for their booster jabs saying the UK has "got to get those numbers up" to avoid "excessive" pressure on the NHS.

Speaking during a visit to Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland, he said the top up shot rollout is the "single most important" task for ministers.

He said: "Unfortunately what you’ve got at the moment is a situation in which the waning of the original two jabs is starting to see too many elderly people getting into hospital.

"Sadly the jabs do wane, we’ve done 10 million booster jabs already and it’s a very effective thing, it’s a wonderful thing people, get 95% more protection.

"The most important thing we can do for our country today if we want to protect our NHS, if we want to make sure we don’t have excessive pressures on A&E over what promises to be a tough winter, is to all get our booster jabs when we’re called."

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