According to the results of recent research studies, men produce higher COVID-19 antibody levels and maintain them for significantly longer periods of time.
The first study, carried out by researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University, tested the levels of COVID-19 antibodies in the blood of asymptomatic participants. The results revealed that the male participants’ COVID-19 antibody levels were three times those of female participants. However, there was no difference in COVID-related symptoms between the men and women, demonstrating no difference in the severity of the infections that resulted in antibody production.
Of the 739 people screened as part of the study, a total of 3.65% of participants had COVID-19 antibodies, which was slightly lower than the national UK average at the time of the study (4-6%).
In addition, the study revealed that the antibody prevalence was highest in men over the age of 40. When researchers followed up the participants with a second test three months later, they also found that of those who had previously had antibodies against COVID-19, 21.7% no longer tested positive, implying that one in five asymptomatic people who generate antibodies against COVID-19 lost them after six months. Furthermore, 80% of those who had lost their antibodies in the study were women. Specifically, women who had lost their antibodies were also on average ten years older than women who retained antibodies.
The results of this study also demonstrate that lateral flow tests could be used to effectively monitor antibody production while vaccines are being rolled out in order to assess how the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines may be changing over time in a large population.
Another study by Portuguese researchers published in the European Journal of Immunology has also demonstrated that on average, men produce higher levels of COVID-19 antibodies than women.
“Our immune system recognizes the virus SARS-CoV-2 as harmful and produces antibodies in response to it, which helps to fight the virus,” said the study author, Dr. Marc Veldhoen from Medicina Molecular Joao Lobo Antunes in Portugal.
The results of this six-month study show a pattern of a rapid increase of antibody levels within the first three weeks after the appearance of COVID-19 symptoms with a subsequent reduction to intermediate levels.
Taken together, the results of this research demonstrate that since the immune protection against COVID-19 provided by antibodies is limited to 6 months or less, the need for ongoing COVID-19 testing is critical to control and prevent further spread of this disease.
We still do not know with a high degree of certainty how long immunity against COVID-19 will last post-infection or vaccination. Understanding the differences in antibody production by gender helps us modify our testing strategies in order to identify risks to individuals, teams, or organizations.
There are many rapid tests on the market including the BD Veritor, PanBio, and SD Sensor but few antibody tests. Always use authorized tests such as the EcoTest, which is authorized for point-of-care use in Europe, Australia, U.S., and Canada.