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HEALTH

Covid antibodies last 8 months after infection, Italian study finds

Antibodies against coronavirus remained in the blood of patients with Covid-19 for at least eight months after they were infected, Italian researchers said on Tuesday.

Covid antibodies last 8 months after infection, Italian study finds
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The antibodies were present “regardless of the severity of the illness, the age of the patients or the presence of other pathologies,” according to a statement from the San Raffaele hospital in Milan.

The researchers, working with Italy’s ISS national health institute, studied 162 patients with symptomatic coronavirus who turned up at the emergency room during the country’s first wave of infections last year.

READ ALSO: Which groups are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine in your region of Italy?

Blood samples were taken in March and April and again at the end of November from those who survived. Some 29 patients died.

“The presence of neutralising antibodies, while reducing over time, was very persistent – eight months after diagnosis, there were only three patients who no longer showed positivity to the test,” said the statement, issued jointly with the ISS.

The study, published in the Nature Communications scientific journal, also emphasised the importance of the development of antibodies in recovering from coronavirus.

“Those who failed to produce them within the first 15 days of infection are at greater risk of developing severe forms of Covid-19,” it said.

Two thirds of the patients surveyed were men, and the average age was 63.

Some 57 percent of them had a pre-existing pathology, notably hypertension and diabetes.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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