Credit: NIAID via Creative Commons

UofG researcher plays key role in an important study of Ebola virus survivors

By Luke Chafer

Research finds survivors of Ebola experience a resurgence in antibody levels almost a year after recovery. 

A study, led by the University of Liverpool in partnership with the University of Glasgow, has found that survivors of Ebola experience a resurgence in antibody levels almost a year after recovery. 

Researchers from the University of Liverpool studied 51 people who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016, recording levels of antibodies in their blood between 30 and 500 days after being discharged from treatment units. They found that, despite the initially expected decline in levels, more than half of the survivors experienced an increase in antibody levels between six months to a year after recovery. It was hypothesised that this was due to the body re-encountering existing viral antigens rather than reinfection or a result of the vaccine due to the lack of viral RNA or proteins.

The study suggests that the discovery of Ebola’s chronic latency could prevent future outbreaks if survivors are closely monitored and an immunisation program is rolled out. As stated by Dr Janet Scott, Clinical Infectious Disease lecturer at the University of Glasgow and the clinical lead for the study, it “offers a mechanism that could be driving Post Ebola Syndrome [and] the clinical science community should now increase efforts to better understand, treat and support Ebola survivors”.

The team at the University of Liverpool are now using a similar research approach to study antibodies in Covid-19 survivors, with reports already suggesting the presence of “long Covid”, similar to post-Ebola syndrome. The study carried out by the team at Liverpool could have important implications for public health policy in the UK moving forward.


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