Can common cold viruses protect against COVID-19?

Can common cold viruses protect against COVID-19?

The researchers analyzed serum samples from 825 participants taken before the pandemic, and assessed their immune responses to four of these HCoVs. When an immune response against one coronavirus creates immune protection against a different virus, health experts call it cross-reactivity. They also analyzed 389 serum samples from individuals who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The researchers also compared immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 with those against pre-pandemic coronaviruses, known as HCoVs. The four types of HCoVs that cause the common cold collectively account for around 10–15% of adult infections and 2–6% of all hospital admissions for lower respiratory tract infections. The study monitored antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 to uncover correlations with vaccine protection, disease severity, and susceptibility to infection.

“Our study shows that a strong antibody response to human coronaviruses increases the level of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. So someone who has gained immunity to harmless coronaviruses is therefore also better protected against severe SARS-CoV-2 infections,” says Prof. Trkola. Prof. Alexandra Trkola, lead researcher and head of the Institute of Medical Virology at UZH, and her colleagues reported their findings in Nature Communications.

“I suspected that preexisting immunity to other human coronaviruses that cause colds would affect responses to SARS-CoV-2, but we didn’t have the data until now. These researchers show convincing evidence that preexisting immunity to other human coronaviruses gives some protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2, as well as [the] development of severe disease.” “These data partly explain why some individuals have very mild or asymptomatic infections, while others develop severe disease,” she continued. Rachel Roper, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, told Medical News Today:

Also, the people with higher levels of antibodies against HCoVs who did contract SARS-CoV-2 were less likely to need hospital treatment. The scientists found that the people who contracted SARS-CoV-2 had lower levels of antibodies against HCoVs than the individuals who did not contract SARS-CoV-2.

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