This May 15, 2020 article published by Science Daily summarizes the findings of a study conducted by the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. The study, which included 20 adults who recovered from COVID-19, shows that the body’s immune system is able to recognize the SARS-COV-2 virus in various ways. This article comes as a response to the growing concern that COVID-19 vaccines being developed today might not offer long term immunity.
The study also looked at blood samples from 2015-2018, long before the SARS-COV-2 was discovered. They found that these cells have significant T-cell reactivity against SARS-COV-2, despite having no previous exposure with the virus. Experts say that this is due to the exposure to coronaviruses that causes the common cold. This crossreactivity, according to experts, may be the reason why some geographical locations are harder hit by COVID-19. In countries where citizens encountered the most number of coronaviruses, their immune systems were more able to respond to the threat.
Editor’s Note: This article hopes to assuage fears about the ineffectiveness of vaccines, but it also provides proof that vaccines may not be necessary if one has a health immune system. We must remember that vaccines trick the immune system into thinking that it is infected by the coronavirus, prompting it to create antibodies and T-cells the antigen. Without a healthy immune system, vaccines will not work as there is no way that the body will be able to recognize the SARS-COV-2. On the other hand, if the immune system is healthy, it can neutralize the coronavirus on its own, without the vaccine.
Another important point raised by this article is the cross-immunity provided by other coronaviruses, which also supports the importance of developing collective immunity. The more healthy individuals exposed to the new coronavirus today, the lesser the threat the coronavirus poses in the future [also see Our Complicated Relationship To Viruses to understand this statement better].
The article also helps explain why coronavirus patients lack antibodies against the virus a few months after discharge. The presence of antibodies signify that it is still actively fighting against a virus, but if the virus has been neutralized, antibody levels begin to taper off also. This is how a healthy immune system works. If high level of antibodies continue to be produced even in the absence of threat, then the body is inflamed, hence causing other health issues such as autoimmune diseases, and heart disease.
More important than a specific antibody against SARS-COV-2 is the existence of an immunological memory which ensures that the body will be able to defend against future infections, hence decreasing the severity of illness.
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