Having high levels of T-cells—white blood cells that help regulate immunity—from the common cold can provide protection against COVID-19, according to Reuters (subscription).
Study says: A study by Imperial College London, published this week, reported the finding. “The study, which began in September 2020, looked at levels of cross-reactive T-cells generated by previous common colds in 52 household contacts of positive COVID-19 cases shortly after exposure to see if they went on to develop infection. It found that the 26 who did not develop infection had significantly higher levels of those T-cells than people who did get infected. Imperial did not say how long protection from the T-cells would last.”
Vaccine help: The T-cells seem to target the internal proteins of the COVID-19 virus, potentially offering “an alternative target for vaccine makers.”
- Current vaccines home in on the virus’s spike protein, which mutates regularly, resulting in variants.
- “‘In contrast, the internal proteins targeted by the protective T-cells we identified mutate much less,’ Professor Ajit Lalvani, co-author of the study, said.”