Scientists around the world are racing to make a vaccine to protect against COVID-19. Scientists are also trying to figure out if people who get COVID-19 are safe from getting it again. Both of these things depend on how our immune systems respond to the new virus.
Studying 20 people who had recovered from COVID-19, scientists in California were pleased to see a strong immune response against the virus. The scientists found that people’s immune systems can recognize the virus in many different ways. This came as a big relief because seeing a strong immune response like this means it is more likely that a future vaccine will work. Also, some people have been worried that people might be able to get sick more than once from the virus, but now that looks less likely.
The scientists in California found something else interesting. Using blood samples collected before the new coronavirus existed, they found that many of the old blood samples had an immune reaction to the new coronavirus. The new coronavirus is related to other coronaviruses that cause colds, so the scientists think that people who’d had colds caused by related germs were able to recognize the new coronavirus, at least a little. That kind of response could help protect some people from getting very sick with COVID-19. If that’s true, it may explain why some people and places are less affected by COVID-19.
- News release: Detailed analysis of immune response to SARS-CoV-2 bodes well for COVID-19 vaccine
- Research paper: Published in the journal Cell
The image above shows an electron microscope picture of a human T cell, an important type of cell in our immune system. Source: National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases