British researchers suspect that some people are immune to Corona. The reason for this could be specific T-cells.
Are there people who can’t become infected with Corona? Since the pandemic began in late 2019, scientists worldwide have been looking at the question of possible Corona immunity. A British study provides exciting clues.
Corona study: who is immune to the virus?
In the winter of 2021, researchers led by Mariana O. Diniz of University College London made an interesting observation: 58 hospital employees at exceptionally high risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection did not become infected with Corona for over four months despite frequent contact with infected persons. Neither a PCR test nor antibody tests or other characteristics could detect infection.
This made the scientists wonder since many of their colleagues had tested positive.
Corona infection: Are T-cells the key?
Diniz and her team took a closer look. In 20 of the 58 people, the researchers detected elevated levels of cross-reactive T-cells. T-cells are responsible for recognizing and fighting pathogens as part of the immune system.
In addition, the researchers found the immune protein called IFI 27 in 19 of the 20 subjects. The elevated T-cells in combination with IFI 27 are interesting: the protein is an indication that a COVID-19 infection has occurred, while the increased T-cells suggest that the condition was fought so quickly that no disease outbreak occurred in the first place. That’s why antibody tests couldn’t detect infection.
Immune to Corona after a cold?
The British researchers hypothesized that a previous cold could be the elevated T-cell levels. Besides SARS-CoV-2, other so-called human coronaviruses cause common colds.
Therefore, it is conceivable that the individuals’ immune systems had already stored the defense information due to a previous cold and were thus better prepared for SARS-CoV-2.
Criticism of the study
Although the study results seem attractive, they do not prove that specific individuals are 100 percent immune to Corona. That’s because it’s not yet known when a common cold will cause cross-reactive T-cells to be produced.
Another criticism of the study, published in the journal Nature: While it is likely that the 58 people studied came into contact with Corona, it has not been conclusively proven. Moreover, the data were collected before the delta or omicron wave, requiring further investigation.
The question of immunity to Corona remains at the center of scientific interest.
- source: wunderweib.de/picture: pixabay.com
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