The study covered 300,000 unvaccinated minors who were infected with the virus, the largest survey of its kind to date.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Children and teenagers who were unvaccinated against COVID-19 and became infected with the virus had very high levels of long-lasting natural immunity, according to a study conducted by Kahn Sagol Maccabi (KSM), the research and innovation center affiliated with Israel’s Maccabi HMO.
“Naturally acquired immunity in children and adolescents was found to be robust and long-lasting, which aligns with what we have witnessed in our day-to-day clinical practice,” said KSM head Dr. Tal Patalon in a statement about the findings.
Researchers discovered that unvaccinated minors maintained levels of natural immunity against reinfection at levels of 80 to 89 percent, for some eighteen months after their initial infection.
Notably, the children and teens who participated in the study were infected with the Delta variant of the virus, between March 2020 and December 2021, and not the Omicron variant from which most infections today originate.
The study covered 300,000 unvaccinated individuals who were infected with the virus, the largest such survey of its kind to date.
“The demonstrated long-term protection of naturally acquired immunity during the Delta variant has important public health implications,” Patalon said. “Although I assume naturally acquired immunity will remain significant against the Omicron variant, this is currently under further research.”
Broken down by age groups, kids aged five to eleven were found that even a year and a half after their infection, their natural immunity did not wane.
With time, the level of natural immunity for older teens age twelve to seventeen did wane slightly, but their protection against reinfection dropped only minimally.
It’s unclear if Israel’s Health Ministry will change its policies around child vaccination based on the results of the study.
Israel has rolled out a massive campaign encouraging parents to vaccinate their children, even if they have already been infected by the virus.