Home Academic journal COVID-19: exposure to weaker strains could be less severe – study

COVID-19: exposure to weaker strains could be less severe – study


Previous infection with similar but milder coronaviruses can lead to a milder case of COVID-19 if infected, according to a new study from Stanford University.

Published in the academic journal Scientific immunology, the study suggests that the reason some patients have milder cases of COVID-19 is because the immune system’s T cells “remember” a similar and weaker type of coronavirus in the past.

T cells are part of the body’s immune system and have the function of remembering pathogens so that they can fight them again more easily.

This is important because although much of the scientific discussion about immunity centers around antibodies – which are proteins that attach themselves to a virus before it can infect cells – these can easily be deceived.

“Pathogens evolve rapidly and” learn “to hide their critical characteristics from our antibodies,” said Professor Mark Davis, lead author of the study and director of the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. from Stanford, in a statement.

The results reveal a possible answer to why some people are more resistant to COVID-19, especially young children.

Seasonal coronaviruses that can cause colds are particularly prevalent in children. This exposure may, in fact, have helped their T cells resist COVID-19.

“Sniffles and sneezes characterize the daycare environment,” Davis added, “and common colds caused by coronaviruses are a big part of it. In the United States, up to 80% of children are exposed in the first two years of their lives. “

The results are far from unprecedented. The idea of ​​a similar disease helping to immunize a more dangerous disease has already been seen in history, such as Louis Pasteur’s discovery of cattle pox which prevented a person from developing smallpox. This is because inoculation basically works by exposing a person to a small, harmless form or the pathogen so that their body can resist it later.

Produced by researchers at the University of Utah and published in the academic journal Virus, the immune system of the human body has learned from the pandemic and will adapt and change. This, in turn, will have an impact on the severity of the disease, rather than the course of the disease itself.

An example given by the lead author of the study, Professor Fred Adler, was a particular type of seasonal coronavirus. Nowadays, the strain is not particularly dangerous or severe. However, it may be the virus that caused the Russian flu pandemic in the late 1800s.

Like the Russian flu, COVID-19 may soon follow a similar path.

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