Herd immunity against a specific disease is achieved when 70% of any population has contracted and immune to that disease. Epidemiologists define herd immunity is a population’s ability to resist further infection. Sweden and Germany report that world-wide herd immunity might be right around the corner.
Many of us worry about COVID-19 because of the daily reports of record infections. One cause of increased daily new cases of COVID-19 is opening society to more interaction. Another is the increased testing for COVID-19. Those who test positive are self-quarantined or hospitalized.
I looked at the recent COVID-19 daily infection rates in Texas. I live in the Houston area and looked closely at the four major medical centers in Harris County and the surrounding counties.
Over the past month, social interaction has been stepped up in phases to allow a partial return to normal life. This has resulted in nearly daily records for COVID-19 new cases.
However, the record increase in new cases does not have a proportional increase in hospitalizations. Nor does it have a proportional increase in daily deaths from COVID-19.
New cases are increasing which means more people are infected. But fewer people are being hospitalized and dying as a result as one would expect. With the increasing infection rate, the population is getting closer to herd immunity to COVID-19.
Our immune system has several ways to protect us. If we have had a disease in the past, our immune system remembers the molecular make-up of the virus or bacteria and attacks it the next time it enters our bodies. When a new virus, like COVID-19, enters our bodies, we do not have the quick response force as would be expected from having previously had that disease.
We produce antibodies to a disease we have had. COVID-19 testing is determining if we have an active case of the virus, but not if we had it and survived it. Antibody testing would tell us if we had COVID-19 and never knew it. The testing for COVID-19 antibodies is underway, but not as extensive.
The research done by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has concluded from their studies that many of us may already have an inherent immune defense against COVID-19 without having previously been infected with COVID-19.
200 Swedish participants were tested for antibodies and memory T-cells from COVID-19 infections. Antibody testing is a standard method to determine that a person has had the disease. Researchers do not test for memory T-cells. They found that twice as many people have memory T-cells aligned to protect against COVID-19.
How did this happen? People not having COVID-19 were found to have immune protection via memory T-cells. It is speculated that the common cold virus may be responsible for giving T-cells a memory to fight COVID-19.
The German study at Hospital Tübingen supports the findings in Sweden. There were 365 people nearly evenly split between those who had COVID-19 and those who did not. 81% of those who did not have COVID-19 produced memory T-cells that could be effective in fighting the COVID-19 virus.
The two studies indicate that 50-80% of the people might have a built-in immunity against COVID-19. Some coronaviruses cause the common cold. It is thought that the link to the common cold virus derived from a coronavirus might be the reason memory T-cells are responding to the COVID-19 virus.
Common cold viruses can be derived from human rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses, and adenoviruses. If you have had a lot of colds over your lifetime, you may have a baseline memory T-cells in your immune system.
The essence of the two studies is that memory T-cells created from a different coronavirus may be effective against COVID-19. There is no guarantee. Neither the German nor Swedish studies have been peer-reviewed. Further testing is required to confirm these studies, but it looks very promising. The sample sizes in both studies were relatively small.
This could be a game-changer in the world fight against COVID-19.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com