Your memory T-cells that protect you from the common cold may also confer immunity to SARS-CoV-2

Your memory T-cells that protect you from the common cold may also confer immunity to SARS-CoV-2

Ok. I’m sensitive to the criticism levied on lay-people (like me) who become “google experts” usually by professionals who’ve spent a long time (l)earning their trade.

I understand that, having spent a long time getting qualified as an accountant.

But I’ve also met some awesome “qualified through experience” accountants who would run rings around some qualified accountants who I’ve met in the past.

And, as long as the google source is solid, isn’t googling just a form of further education?

The quality of the source is the key … which is why I try and read/decipher the scientific papers that google can lead you to rather than the press interpretations of what those papers mean.

Fortunately, I have a scientific degree which makes this (only) a little easier.

So, back to the subject of this post. I had had a conversation with Karen last year concerning Covid-19 and your immune system – it was just an intuition rather than anything I had read.

It was along the lines that if you had had a prior infection with something resembling Covid-19 (eg., a cold) then your body would know how to deal with it.

I used the ability to light a fire as an analogy; if you have learnt how to light a fire once you ought to be able to do it again.

Not a great analogy though, as it turns out that lighting the fire is not the problem with Covid-19; it’s the contolling of it when lit.

Anyway, cytokine storms are not the subject of this post which concerns the good news that vaccines produce a memory T-cell response to SARS-CoV-2 – even if antibodies can be sidestepped by new variants.

By way of background there are 7 human coronaviruses – 4 that cause common cold like symptoms (other viruses are available – to cause colds) – and 3 that cause serious illness – (i) SARS-CoV-1, (ii) MERS-CoV and (iii) SARS-CoV-2

SO, going back to prior infections, it appears that memory T-cells in unvaccinated people (this study was published before vaccines were widely available) who have recovered from (i), (ii) or (iii) may also confer immunity against (iii).

But even better …. memory T-cells in people who have NOT been infected with (i), (ii) or (iii) ALSO show some efficacy at tackling (iii).

The hypothesis is that prior coronavirus infections (we’ve all had a cold!) prime memory T-cells to target homologous (similar or of common ancestry) coronavirus proteins.

Now, the paper gets a bit complicated at the end but I think the gist of it is as follows (please feel free to correct me in the comments section below peeps).

Memory T-cells from recovered victims know how to attack the “whole virus” presumably because they’ve seen it recently before.

(T-cells from recovered victims of (i) and (ii) attack the structural (nucleocapsid (N) protein) regions of (iii))

But also, memory T-cells from people in circa 50% of the control sample who had not had recorded prior infections of (i), (ii) and/or (ii) remembered “bits” of the virus, and attacked these.

(T-cells from circa 50% of uninfected volunteers attack the non-structural (NSP7 and NSP13 of ORF1) regions of SARS-CoV-2).

So it seems that if you’ve had a cold you may also have some memory T-cell protection against SARS-CoV-2.

Great stuff.