Surviving a cold protects against infection

Colds that have gone through can provide protection against a corona infection. This finding provides important insights for new vaccines.

Four human corona viruses are already endemic in our country. They cause the classic colds that everyone has had before. Now it shows again: The colds that have been overcome can infection with the Coronavirus protection.

researcher of Imperial College London found out: The t cells, which the body when infected with the classic cold viruses produced, can also recognize and fight the novel corona virus.

Why do some become infected and others not?

dr Rhia Kundu, first author of the study, from the National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College: “Contact with the SARS-CoV-2Virus does not always lead to infection and we were keen to understand why. We found that a high proportion of existing t cells, which the body when infected with other human corona viruses such as the cold generated, can protect against Covid-19 infection.”

The study started in September 2020, when most people in the UK were neither infected nor vaccinated against Corona. Among the participants were 52 people, with one person reporting a positive PCR-Test had, lived together. So you were exposed to the virus. The researchers took blood samples from the first day of exposure to the virus. So they could mirror the T cells measure up. They were examined t cells, which had been developed by previous colds. The realization: They are cross-reactive. That means they also react to protein structures of SARS-Cov-2.

T cells are important for the immune system

These white blood cells play an important role in the immune response. They recognize pathogens such as viruses on their structure and either eliminate them or bring tailored antibodies against them onto the field.

Of the 52 people living in a household with an infected person, half became infected. The researchers found significantly higher levels of cross-reactivity among the uninfected T cells. What was unexpected was this one T cells targeted internal proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and not the spike protein on the surface of the virus. However, forming antibodies against this protein is the basis of all vaccines that have been approved to date. The virus enters human cells via the spike protein and spreads.

Internal proteins more important than the spike protein?

However, current vaccines do not elicit an immune response to the internal proteins that the T cells reacted. Professor Ajit Lalvani, senior author of the study and director of the NIHR Respiratory Infections Health Protection Research Unit at Imperial: “Our study provides the clearest evidence to date that cold coronavirus-induced T cells play a protective role against SARS-CoV-2. This T cells provide protection by targeting proteins within the virus rather than the spike protein on its surface.”

In contrast to the spike protein, the internal proteins produced by the T cells be attacked, much less. They are therefore highly conserved – also at Omikron.

Lalvani: “New vaccines containing these conserved internal proteins would therefore be largely protective T cell responses induce that should protect against current and future SARS-CoV-2 variants.”

But the researchers also emphasize that nobody should rely on deriving immune protection against the new corona virus from colds that have been experienced. Rhia Kundu: “While this is an important discovery, it is only a form of protection and I would like to emphasize that no one should rely on this alone. Instead, the best way to protect yourself against Covid-19 to protect the full vaccination, including the booster vaccination.”

Important NOTE: The information in no way replaces professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The content of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.

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