In a new study, scientists suggest that people who sustained a common cold have some protection against severe COVID-19. Additionally, they say that a similarity to coronaviruses that potentially caused the common cold may have prepared the immune system to combat comparable diseases.
The study led by German researchers also focuses on a less popular type of immunity compared to antibodies, which have been the vanguard in most studies. Furthermore, they found that T-cell immunity emerges as more common among infected patients.
Scientists also believe that it could potentially last longer. The study also claims that eight out of ten people who have never been infected with the coronavirus possess some degree of protection brought about by episodes of colds they've had in the past.
The authors of the study also discovered that even COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms had developed an active immune response, although they do not seem to have strong antibody responses.
It remains unclear whether individuals can develop having the coronavirus twice. The researchers say that the T-cell immunity may not prevent re-infection, but could lessen the severity of symptoms if they do get it again.
The findings of the study were published on the website Research Square. Furthermore, the paper is yet to be analyzed by other independent scientists before publication in a medical journal.
T-Cell Immunity in COVID-19 Patients
Scientists from the University Hospital Tübingen in Germany analyzed blood samples of 365 people. Out of the total, 180 had COVID-19, while 185 hadn't.
When the researchers exposed the blood to SARS-CoV-2, they found that people who had had the illness had already produced the most substantial immune response. Surprisingly, they also found an immune reaction in 81 percent of the subjects who have never had COVID-19 before.
The researchers speculate that this immune reaction may have been caused by previous illnesses involving common cold coronaviruses such as OC43, 229E, NL63, and HKU1. As a result, their immune systems have cross-reacted to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
T-cells caused the reactions seen in their experiments. The cells are a kind of white blood cell that generates long-lasting protection from severe infection. Although providing long term protection, t-cells are somewhat slower than antibodies and might not be able to stop a virus before it takes hold.
Furthermore, the research team said that the correlation between T-cell immunity and COVID-19 deserved more scientific study. They are now preparing to begin human trials of vaccines that they hope could develop resistance.
Coronavirus Symptoms VS Common Cold
According to Intermountain Healthcare, four other coronavirus strains are prevalent and usually only cause mild symptoms. One of these symptoms includes the common cold.
COVID-19 usually presents fever, chills, dry cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, headaches, and tiredness.
On the other hand, a common cold produces upper respiratory symptoms not usually seen in coronavirus patients, such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Experts say that the majority of the symptoms from a cold are actually not caused by the infection itself. They are actually caused by the body's immune system trying to get rid of it.
Doctors say cold viruses will go away on their own if bodies are given time to fight them. Moreover, they say that the immune system is the greatest defense against the common cold.