I have been under the weather with the cold since last week and it made me start wondering if the common cold can protect us from COVID-19? Here's what I found out:
Getting a cold is something most people normally want to avoid. Now that cold and flu season is upon us and the pandemic is on, you might be feeling this even more so. A sniffly nose can send you worrying, waiting for your COVID-19 test results as you hunker down at home. It’s simply no fun to be sick, and now more than ever.
But a cold that’s not actually COVID-19 could be of benefit. Research is showing it could protect you against COVID-19.
How? It has to do with the cross-reactivity of something called memory B cells. Work done at the University of Rochester Medical Center is showing that seasonal colds you have had in the past could be providing immune protection against the novel coronavirus.
“When we looked at blood samples from people who were recovering from COVID-19,” said lead study author Mark Sangster, Ph.D., “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.”
This study is the first ever to pinpoint the cross-reactivity of memory B cells in relation to SARS-CoV-2. Being cross-reactive means that if you get COVID-19 and you have already had a similar-looking common cold, your memory B cells will recognize the viral infection and spring into action faster than if you hadn’t had that pesky cold at all. In fact, these cells can get to work so fast, your coronavirus infection could “go away” before it even starts.
Researchers say your memory B cells can live for decades. They could be part of the explanation as to why some people hardly develop any symptoms with COVID-19, yet others become extremely ill. These cells could also be proving that people won’t likely get COVID-19 twice. People who have had it once, could be protected for a lifetime. Scientists working on this study say that future research is needed to know if this really is true.
To date, it is not known exactly how long COVID-19 survivors are protected from being reinfected. With many common colds, people can be re-infected with the same illness again within just one year. British researchers have shown that people only have levels of antibodies high enough to kill other coronaviruses for a brief time. Antibody levels begin to drop after about three months. It is true, however, that memory B cells, the place where antibodies are manufactured, have a much longer lifespan. Some B cells that created antibodies for the Spanish Flu were discovered in people 90 years after the pandemic of 1918.
It is true, however, that the idea of never catching COVID-19 twice contradicts some people’s experience. One man in Hong Kong is said to have contracted the virus twice. In August, almost 100 people in South Korea who once had coronavirus and recovered, then tested positive again months later. And a man in Nevada, US, is also said to have caught the coronavirus twice. It was even worse the second time around.
Researchers say they are not entirely sure what is going on in cases like these. Whether the virus is lying dormant and reappearing, or testing methods are inaccurate, is somewhat unknown. Maybe you can catch COVID-19 twice. But one thing is known: a common cold may help you fight it off. While annoying, it might keep you healthier in the long run."
Hope you find this info helpful!
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