Rita Wilson Reveals She Still Has COVID-19 Antibodies

Rita Wilson - Getty - H 2020
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The actress-singer and husband Tom Hanks were among the first stars to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in March.

Nearly nine months after battling COVID-19, Rita Wilson reveals that she still has antibodies for the novel coronavirus.

The actress-singer updated Jimmy Kimmel on her response to the disease in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Tuesday night.

Joining Kimmel in his studio for a socially distanced in-person interview, Wilson gave him an elbow bump before Kimmel announced that he wasn't too worried about being in close contact with Wilson.

"I feel like you're the only person I don't have to worry about because you must be brimming with antibodies right now," Kimmel said.

And Wilson confirmed, "I still have antibodies!"

She explained that she's tested "every couple of months" as part of a UCLA program and suggested that others in the study also still have antibodies.

"They test us and so far we still have them," she said. "They diminish as you get farther away from your infection, but they're still there helping us out."

It's unclear how long people who are infected with the novel coronavirus remain immune to the new disease, with concerns that the immunity might be short-lived, requiring a frequent administration of vaccines to control the pandemic.

However, recent studies have indicated that those who recovered are likely protected for a long period of time.

A study co-led by the La Jolla Institute of Immunology, the results of which were published online in mid-November, reported that people who were infected eight months prior still have enough immune cells to ward off the virus and not get sick, and the slow short-term rate of decline suggests those cells might remain in the body for a very long time, according to a New York Times report on the study.

Other studies, The Times noted, have shown long-term immunity.

NPR, meanwhile, cited two studies — one from UCLA and another from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York — in a July report.

The UCLA study found that antibodies in 34 people with the coronavirus on average dropped to half of where they started over a two-and-a-half-month period. Still, experts cautioned that those findings are limited and may have been focused on people with mild illness. It's unknown whether Wilson is involved in the same study.

The Mt. Sinai research group looked at nearly 20,000 people with mild to moderate illness, 90 percent of which had antibody responses that lasted at least three months.

Both Wilson and her husband Tom Hanks were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Australia in March, where they had traveled for work, and were told that they likely contracted the virus in the U.S. or in transit from there as, at the time, all new reported infections in Australia were non-contact cases. The pair had been in Australia for at least a week prior to their diagnosis.

When Hanks and Wilson were diagnosed, there were only 130 cases in Australia. The pair were in isolation for 14 days in a hospital on the Gold Coast before returning to the U.S., where they continued social distancing and sheltering in place. Wilson has said that as she came down with the disease, she was "very tired, extremely achy, felt uncomfortable, didn't want to be touched." She also had a fever that reached 102 degrees by day nine, got chills, and lost her sense of taste and smell.