Covid Immune Response Study Revealing Potential Reason Some People Avoid Infection 

In a new study from the University College London, scientists have discovered potential differences in immune responses that could reveal why some individuals avoid infection from Covid-19. 

The study, according to The Guardian, intentionally gave healthy adults a small nasal dose of Covid-19. The results showed that specialized immune cells in the nose could fight off the virus in the early stages of development before a full infection can form. 

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“These findings shed new light on the crucial early events that either allow the virus to take hold or rapidly clear it before symptoms develop. We now have a much greater understanding of the full range of immune responses, which could provide a basis for developing potential treatments and vaccines that mimic these natural protective responses,”  said Dr Marko Nikolić, senior author and honorary consultant in respiratory medicine. 

36 healthy adult volunteers without a previous history of having Covid and were unvaccinated were given a small dose of the virus through the nose. The study was done in 2021 at the height of the pandemic. 

16 of the volunteers were monitored specifically within the immune cells of the blood and the lining of the nose.

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“These participants were found to fall into three distinct groups: six people developed a sustained infection and became ill; three people became transiently positive but without developing a full infection; and seven experienced an ‘abortive infection.’ This subset never tested positive, but the tests showed they had mounted an immune response,” according to Hannah Devlin, a Science Correspondent for the Guardian. 

The abortive and transient groups had samples taken pre-exposure, and showed high activity levels in a gene called HLA-DQA2. 

“These cells will take a little bit of the virus and show it to immune cells and say: ‘This is foreign: you need to go and sort it out,’” said Dr Kaylee Worlock of UCL, first author of the study.

The study suggested that those with high levels of activity of the gene may have a more efficient immune response to Covid, however, they were not completely immune. 

The study could provide a basis for developing further and more effective treatments and vaccine options that can replicate the initial immune response that the cells in the nose provide.