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COVID-19 immunity may be more widespread than previously thought, new study suggests

Published on 02/07/20 at 11:43am
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Coronavirus immunity in the world’s population may be more widespread than initially thought, even in those who have tested negative for antibodies, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden tested 200 people for both antibodies and T-cells and found for every person who test positive for antibodies, two people were found to have specific T-cells that find and destroy infected cells. This was even the case with patients suffering with mild COVID-19 or those who had asymptomatic cases of the virus.

Some of these people were blood donors while others were part of the first wave of infections in Sweden who returned from travelling form places like northern Italy. This could mean that there is a larger amount of people with some levels of immunity to the virus.

However, this does not mean that herd immunity in national populations is any closer. There is not enough research on if T-cells can completely block the virus or whether they can protect an infected person from getting sick or stop them from transmitting the virus.

The most severe cases of COVID-19 usually occur in patients with low amounts of T-cells, making it hard for their bodies to fight the virus. A drug called interleukin 7, that boosts T-cell production, is currently being trialed in the UK to see it can help COVID-19 patients recover faster.

Conor Kavanagh

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