COVID-19 may change the body’s response to flu, study finds

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In a study from Yale University, scientists found COVID-19 may change the body’s response to other threats. But this depends on your sex.

The team has long believed that the immune system reverts to the previous stable baseline after viral infection.

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 allowed him and his colleagues to test that theory.

In the study, the team found the answer depends on the individual’s sex.

They systematically examined the immune responses of healthy people who had received the flu vaccine.

From that data, the team then compared the responses between those who had never been infected by COVID-19 and those who experienced mild cases but recovered.

The researchers found that the immune systems of men who had recovered from mild cases of COVID-19 responded more robustly to flu vaccines than women who had had mild cases or men and women who had never been infected.

In essence, the baseline immune statuses in men previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 were altered in ways that changed the response to an exposure different from SARS-CoV-2.

The team says the findings are surprising because women usually mount a stronger overall immune response to pathogens and vaccines.

The findings may also be linked to an observation made early in the pandemic:

Men were much more likely to die from a runaway immune response than women after contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Even mild cases of COVID-19, the new findings suggest, might trigger stronger inflammatory responses in males than females, resulting in more pronounced functional changes to the male immune system, even long after recovery.

Their unbiased analysis of immune system status down to the individual cell level reveals several differences between COVID-recovered males and healthy controls and COVID-recovered females, both before and after receiving flu vaccinations.

For instance, previously infected males produced more antibodies to influenza and produced increased levels of interferons, which are produced by cells in response to infections or vaccines.

Generally, healthy women have stronger interferon responses than men.

These findings point to the possibility that any infection or immune challenge may change the immune status to establish new set points.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about antibodies that block all the COVID-19 variants, and zinc could help reduce COVID-19 infection risk.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about new discoveries that may help stop the flu forever, and results showing COVID-19 mixed with flu can increase risks of death.

The study was conducted by John Tsang et al and published in Nature.

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