COVID-19 infection may boost antibodies against common colds

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Scientists from Scripps Research found that getting sick with a common cold doesn’t make you immune to COVID-19, but a COVID-19 infection might boost antibodies against common cold-causing coronaviruses and the SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV viruses.

The research is published in Science Advances and was conducted by Andrew Ward et al.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is just one in a large and diverse family of coronaviruses.

A few of its relatives are equally contagious and virulent—causing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak—while others, considered common cold viruses, cause much milder symptoms.

Overall, many of these coronaviruses have only one-quarter to one-half of their genetic material in common with SARS-CoV-2.

In the study, the team characterized coronavirus antibodies isolated from 11 people to reveal how COVID-19 impacts the immune system’s ability to recognize other coronaviruses.

They found only the serum from recovered COVID-19 patients reacted to the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins.

However, these COVID-19 patient samples also reacted more strongly than the pre-pandemic samples to the other spike proteins as well.

The team also found some antibodies from the COVID-19 patients not only bound to the common cold coronaviruses, but to SARS-CoV- and MERS-CoV spike proteins as well.

They say the end goal of this would be to rationally design vaccines that can recognize many different coronaviruses.

Since these studies were done directly on serum antibodies, the researchers don’t know whether the presence of these antibodies, in any of the cases, is enough to provide full immunity to coronaviruses in the more complex setting of the human immune system.

The team says their work provides a baseline characterization of people’s antibody responses to endemic coronavirus prior to SARS-CoV-2 exposure but there are a lot of open questions. They hope this leads to a lot more research.

If you care about COVID, please read studies that flu shot may help prevent severe COVID-19, and this inexpensive heart drug can help treat severe COVID-19.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about new antibody treatment for COVID-19, and results showing what you should know about the COVID-19 pill.

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