T Cells May Be Sufficient Protection Against COVID-19, New Study Suggests

November 13, 2020 Updated: November 13, 2020

A new study suggests that T cells, a type of white blood cell, may be sufficient to protect an individual against the CCP virus.

The data from the study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was conducted by Oxford Immunotec Global PLC, and Public Health England (PHE), indicated that people who have a higher number of T cells that react to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus are associated with lower susceptibility to the CCP virus.

2,826 patients were recruited for the study to measure their T cells using the company’s kit ( T-SPOT) for research purposes, and following their testing, the patients were followed-up to see if they developed any infection for the CCP virus.

These individuals recruited were working in hospitals, fire, and police departments in England during the pandemic.

“Four months into the study, 20 participants with lower T cell responses had developed COVID-19, compared with none among individuals with high T cell responses,” said David Wyllie, one of the authors of this study and a consultant microbiologist at the PHE, according to a news release.

Wyllie concluded with the data from the study that people who have a higher number of T cells that recognize COVID-19 may have better protection against the virus than those who have a lower number of T cells that react to the virus.

T cells (along with B cells) are a type of white blood cell that plays an essential part in the adaptive immune system by assisting the body in destroying and remembering antigens—foreign substances that invade the body.

Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), stated in a blog post that T cells play a big role in protecting an individual against viral infections, which includes the CCP virus.

“This might potentially explain why some people seem to fend off the virus and may be less susceptible to becoming severely ill with COVID-19,” Collins said.

Currently, the company stressed in the news release that the use of T-SPOT is only for research purposes, and not to be employed in any diagnostic testing.

However, the Oxford Immunotec CEO Peter Wrighton-Smith stated that the company’s T-SPOT technology “is the only globally regulated ELISPOT platform currently available and we are pleased that we may be able to use it to support efforts to combat COVID-19.”

Wrighton-Smith also praised the collaborative work done by the company and the PHE, stating that it was a great example of the private and public sector working together to solve a problem.

“The successful outcomes of this study would not have been possible without the specialist skills and resource available within Public Health England,” Wrighton-Smith said.

Meiling Lee contributed to this article.