COVID-19 protection: With the world entering the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot is still left to be known about the disease and protection against it. Accordingly, numerous studies are still being conducted globally to gather as much information as possible. Now, a new study published in the journal Nature Communications has found that some protection against the SARS-CoV-2 could be provided by the high levels of T-cells that are generated from a common cold. According to a report in The Indian Express, the researchers studied people who became exposed to the novel coronavirus at the initial stages of the pandemic.
The researchers then found that the T-cells that are generated from the common cold-causing coronavirus might be able to provide protection against COVID-19. For those who might not know, T-cells are a kind of white blood cells that provide the body protection against infections.
A statement cited study lead author Rhia Kundu from Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute as saying that they were trying to understand why exposure to SARS-CoV-2 did not always lead to infection. The study looked at 52 people, unvaccinated, who had lived with a COVID-19 positive patient. The findings showed that people who had significantly higher levels of T-cells did not get infected, while those with lower levels did.
Senior author Professor Ajit Lalvani was cited by the report as saying that their study provided the clearest evidence so far about common cold coronavirus-induced T-cells providing protection against the COVID-19 infection. Lalvani further stated that T-cells attacked the protein that was present inside the virus itself, instead of attacking the spike protein that is present on its surface.
This, according to Lalvani, means that new vaccines that include these proteins would trigger a T-cell response that should be able to protect the recipient from current as well as future variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Manipal Hospital’s Dr Saad Hafeez Usmani said that while this data could prove to be beneficial for the development of next vaccines against COVID-19, relying on this study alone would not be advisable due to the small sample size and lack of diversity. He reiterated that the current best method of being protected against COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated and getting a booster dose if applicable.