Can the common cold protect against COVID-19?
So-called memory T cells, which were formed in the body in response to a previous illness from other corona viruses, can also support the immune system’s reaction against the emerging SARS-CoV-2 virus. For example, previous infections with harmless coronaviruses may provide some protection against a severe course of COVID-19.
Previous diseases with harmless Corona variants could develop a certain protective effect against COVID-19, according to the result of a study with the participation of researchers from the Institute of Transfusion Medicine and Transplant Engineering of the Hannover Medical School (MHH). The study was published in the Journal of the English Language.immunity“Was released.
Permanent protection against COVID-19?
When it comes to long-term or permanent protection against COVID-19, what is known as T-cell immunity appears to play an important role. Two different mechanisms are used to protect the immune system against SARS-CoV-2. On the other hand, this is called a humoral immune response, as the antibodies are supposed to prevent viruses from entering the cell. However, over time, the antibody concentration again decreases. The researchers explain that this applies above all to people with mild disease.
As a second defense, the immune system uses the cellular immune response to fight viruses with the help of so-called T lymphocytes. Experts explained that these T lymphocytes identify the cells infected with the virus and then destroy them to prevent its spread in the body.
Levels of antibodies and T lymphocytes were measured
In the current study, the researchers reported on their latest findings on the cellular immune response in relation to infection with SARS-CoV-2. Experts have examined various blood samples from people who have already been exposed to COVID-19. They compared these samples with blood samples taken from people severely suffering from COVID-19 and healthy people without infection. Antibody levels and T-lymphocyte concentrations were compared.
The researchers were able to determine that people who were already healthy no longer had as many antibodies in their blood as did people with severe disease. However, experts have shown a large number of memory effect T cells that specialize in SARS-CoV-2 in these people.
What do T effector memory cells do?
These cells are not only able to recognize the spike protein, but also recognize other structures on the surface of the virus, which are part of the immune memory. The experts explained that immune memory improves protection when the person in question becomes infected again with pathogens. According to the researchers, it appears that T-cell immunity remains unchanged after infection with the COVID-19 disease.
Flu-like infections can protect against COVID-19
The research team also reported that contact with other viruses from the Corona family, which, for example, only leads to a harmless flu-like infection, also had seemingly positive effects on the defense against SARS-CoV-2.
Professor Britta Isis Vesper of MHH says, “The current immunity against such endemic coronaviruses has a positive effect on the development of T-cell immunity against SARS-CoV-2, and presumably also on the COVID-19 pathway.”
The so-called cross-immunity is also particularly interesting when it comes to virus mutations. Researchers suspect that the protective effect found against the circulating coronavirus variants could be stronger with more similar variants of SARS-CoV-2. (Like)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been examined by medical professionals.
- Agnes Bonifacius, Sabine Tischer-Zimmermann, Anna C Dragon, Daniel Gussarow, Alexander Vogel et al: Immunological signatures of COVID-19 reveal antiviral T cell function despite reduced humoral responses, in immunity (veröffentlicht 09.02. immunity
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-medication. He cannot replace a visit to the doctor.