Common Cold Antibodies Protect Against COVID-19A new study investigated whether preexisting antibodies from common cold viruses offered protection against COVID-19. Researchers analyzed blood samples from 94 unvaccinated hospitalized patients with varying severity of respiratory failure; 74 had tested positive for COVID-19, while 20 didn't have the infection.
They measured levels of antibodies from prior common cold coronavirus infections. The same analysis was done for non-COVID-19 patients as controls.
‘Original Antigenic Sin’The concept of “original antigenic sin” (OAS) was first coined in the 1960s. It refers to how initial flu exposures shape immunity against later, related strains, sometimes trapping the immune system in a way that leaves it unable to adapt to new variants of a virus. This can leave people more vulnerable to a given virus.
Since then, research has shown these original imprints can influence susceptibility to other infections.
This phenomenon may also apply to COVID-19 and common colds, Dr. Thomas Gut, an internal medicine doctor with the Post-COVID Recovery Center at Staten Island University Hospital, told The Epoch Times.
“It’s been up for debate for quite some time whether preexisting colds ... offer a protective effect for being exposed to COVID or whether it somehow makes it higher-risk when they’re exposed to COVID,” he said.
Did Childhood Colds Help Africa Evade COVID-19’s Worst?There's an intense debate around whether endemic common colds impact susceptibility to severe COVID-19 outcomes, according to a review of the study. However, some speculate that childhood cold exposure partly explains Africa’s milder pandemic impact through cross-protection.
Of the 250 participants, more than 83 percent had prior exposure to common cold coronaviruses. The study found that their infection-fighting white blood cells cross-reacted to the virus that causes COVID-19.
This suggests that people who were previously exposed to these genetically related coronaviruses have immune responses that are protective against future SARS-CoV-2 infections, Bobby Brooke Herrera, assistant professor of global health at Rutgers Global Health Institute and lead author of the study, said in a statement. He noted the study’s unique baseline data from early in the pandemic, before vaccination started.
Early Exposures Shape Kids’ Viral Defenses: StudyA 2023 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed pre-pandemic blood samples from children and adults, along with samples from COVID-19 recoverees.
The research found that children as young as 2 had already developed immunity to several viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, these protective cells decreased with age.
“These reactions are especially strong early in life and grow much weaker as we get older,” Annika Karlsson, study corresponding author and research group leader at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, said in a statement.
This may explain why children tend to get milder COVID-19 cases than adults.