By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – While scientists across the globe race to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, the question remains, would such a vaccine protect people from getting infected and are people who have already been infected protected from getting the virus again?

Two new studies out of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggest the answer is yes.

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In the first study, researchers administered six different coronavirus vaccines in development to rhesus monkeys. They found the animals produced antibodies to the virus which then protected them from getting infected when exposed to the virus weeks later.

In the second study, they found that monkeys that had recovered from COVID-19 developed antibodies to the virus which then protected them from getting re-infected a month later.

“The vaccinated animals had far lower, and in some cases no detectable virus, following the exposure to COVID-19, whereas all the controls did develop virus and viral pneumonia,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, of Beth Israel.

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It’s still not clear how long protection from either having the infection or from getting a vaccine would last, but both studies demonstrate that it is at least possible to develop protective immunity to the virus.

Lara Woolfson had one of Boston’s first cases of coronavirus in early March. Since recovering, she’s donated blood and nasal swabs to multiple research studies.

“For me it’s like, okay, I went through this awful experience, but if out of that, something good can come out that helps other people, I would do it 100 times over,” she said.

Blood donations like hers contribute to vaccine research, and political leaders and scientists alike say a vaccine is the only way the world will be able to return to normal life.

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“Overall, we believe this is good news because it shows that overall immunity and vaccine-induced immunity can protect,” Barouch said, adding that there would need to be several clinical trials to show that humans have the same reaction to a vaccine as the monkeys did in the study.

Dr. Mallika Marshall