Herd Immunity, Already?

For a dose of pre-weekend optimism, check out the Telegraph, which headlines: “UK may already have enough herd immunity to prevent second coronavirus wave, study says.”

The UK may have already achieved a sufficient level of herd immunity to stop a second wave of coronavirus, an Oxford University study has suggested.

Scientists believe the “threshold” of herd immunity may have been lowered because many people may already be immune to the disease without ever having caught it.

Why is that? Because many people may be immune by virtue of having contracted similar diseases, like the common cold.

Leading experts have already suggested that a sizeable number of people may have immunity against coronavirus because of its similarity to viruses including the common cold.
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Last month, Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, who is working with a team at Oxford to develop a vaccine, said there was likely to be a “background level” of protection for a “significant number of people”.

“There is probably background T-cell immunity in people before they see the coronavirus, and that may be relevant that many people get a pretty asymptomatic disease,” he said.

Also from the Telegraph, on the same subject: “Exposure to common cold could provide immunity to Covid-19.”

Exposure to the common cold could provide some measure of immunity to Covid-19, a new study suggests.

The key to this immunity lies in T-cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system fight off viruses, which experts believe may have just as important a role to play as antibodies in fighting off the virus.
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This is not the first time that exposure to the common cold has been linked to resistance to Covid-19 and there is some speculation that this is one of the reasons why children and younger people are seemingly more immune to the disease than older adults.

It appears that in many people, T-cells are sufficient to fight off the coronavirus without resort to antibodies.

The findings may also go some way to explaining why some people who believe they have had the disease because they have experienced the classic symptoms of shortness of breath, tiredness and loss of taste and smell have tested negative in antibody tests, the researchers said.

Interesting, and relatively optimistic. And one more reminder that the Wuhan virus is not exactly the Black Death.

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