Study finds past seasonal colds may help against Covid-19

CAPE TOWN- A new study from a university in the United States has found that the seasonal colds you may have had in the past could provide some protection from Covid-19.

Infectious disease experts from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, also suggest that immunity to Covid-19 is likely to last a long time.

Memory B cells are long-lived immune cells that detect pathogens, create antibodies to destroy a virus and remember them for the future. These cells can survive for decades and could protect Covid-19 survivors from subsequent infections for a long time, but further research will have explore that.

The study, published in mBio, is the first to report cross-reactivity of memory B cells, which means that these cells are able to recognise SARS-CoV-2 better if they were previously attacked by influenza. Study authors believe this could mean that anyone who has been infected by a common coronavirus may have some degree of pre-existing immunity to Covid-19.


Lead study author and research professor of Microbiology and Immunology at URMC, Dr Mark Sangster, said: “When we looked at blood samples from people who were recovering from COVID-19, it looked like many of them had a pre-existing pool of memory B cells that could recognize SARS-CoV-2 and rapidly produce antibodies that could attack it.”

The study compared blood samples from 26 people who were recovering from mild to moderate Covid-19 and 21 healthy donors whose samples were collected six to 10 years ago – long before they could have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

From those samples, researchers measured levels of memory B cells and antibodies that target specific parts of the Spike protein, which exists in all coronaviruses and is crucial for helping the viruses infect cells. Memory B cells can’t tell the difference between the Spike S2 subunits of the different coronaviruses and attack indiscriminately.

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