Posts

T-Cells From Common Colds Could Help Create A ‘Variant-Proof’ Covid Vaccine 

According to new research from the Imperial College London, T-cells that are generated as part of the body’s natural immune response to the common cold could help protect against serious Covid-19 illness, and potentially lead to a vaccine that would be effective against new variants of the virus. 

The recently published study began back in September 2020 and followed 52 household contacts of people who had tested positive for Covid-19. The data showed that 26 people who were exposed to the virus, but didn’t show any symptoms, had significantly higher cross-reactive T-cells, which were generated by previous common colds.

Embed from Getty Images

“The conclusion should not be that if you’ve had a common cold you don’t need to worry about contracting COVID-19. This is so for a number of reasons, including that not all colds are caused by coronaviruses, and T-cells’ ability to fight off symptomatic infections wanes over time,” Professor Aljit Lalvani, one of the authors of the study, explained. 

“What the study tells us is that there is a mechanism, a natural mechanism of natural protective immunity, that is triggered by previous common cold coronavirus infections, so we want to harness that naturally occurring protective immunity to develop better vaccines.”

Lalvani explained that the majority of the current Covid-19 vaccines out there specifically target the virus’ spike protein, as that’s the part that attacks healthy human cells. The vaccines then cause the body to produce antibodies and T-cells that can respond to that protein. 

Embed from Getty Images

He then explained how the new research found that T-cells created after a common cold caused by other coronaviruses (which are common) can attack a type of protein that remains similar among all the known Covid-19 variants. These proteins are what give the virus the ability to replicate itself. 

“The fact that the T-cells can attack the internal proteins of each of these related COVID-19 variants means that they give what’s called a broad cross-protection. That’s in sharp contrast to the surface spike protein, which is the target of antibodies induced by vaccines.”

“Clearly, SARS-CoV-2 is under huge, intense pressure in the global population because most people now have these antibodies, whether induced by vaccination or infection, so the virus is trying naturally to evade that immunity through mutation, and that’s why Omicron has such a high number of mutations in the spike protein. But the internal proteins are relatively unchanged,” Lalvani stated. 

“We’re very fortunate to have found what immunologists refer to as the ‘Holy Grail,’ so we’re keen for people to understand this and to see that, at last, there is a path towards dealing with future variants.”

“This is now a definitive green light to move forward and develop a T-cell inducing vaccine to internal core proteins, which should protect against current and future variants,” he said.

Lying About High-Risk Travel In England Can Get You Up To 10 Years In Prison 

England announced new Covid-19 travel and border policies this Tuesday that state anyone arriving in the country and found to have lied about a recent trip to a country on the British government’s travel ban list could face up to 10 years in prison as a means of curbing the spread of the virus and all the new variants appearing throughout the world. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told citizens this Monday that all UK residents, as well as those in Ireland, arriving into England from places on the governments “Red List” will have to purchase a quarantine package that costs around $2,400 per person. This package covers accomodation, virus testing, and other essential services. 

Embed from Getty Images

Individuals who choose not to abide by these restrictions, including those arriving from a Red List country without a hotel already booked to quarantine in, could be subject to a series of heavy fines in addition to a potential prison sentence, according to Hancock.

“I make no apologies for the strength of these measures because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation. People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.”

There are about 33 countries on the UK’s Red List for travel due to the slew of new variants appearing. If you enter into the UK from a country not on the list, you can simply quarantine at home, for those who do, however, must buy the coronavirus package mentioned above, and will be placed on “variant surveillance testing” as well. 

Embed from Getty Images

Hancock claimed that all of these policies will be going into effect as of Thursday of this week, and the government has created contracts with 16 hotels to give them an additional 4,600 rooms for the quarantining measures.

“Anyone who lies on a passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on our red list in the 10 days before arrival here will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.”

Scotland is also tightening its rules on international travel, requiring all citizens entering into the nation on an international flight to quarantine in a designated hotel. “Airports and airlines are battling to survive with almost zero revenue and a huge cost base, and practically every week a further blow lands. Aviation-specific financial support is urgently needed to ensure our sector can get through the year,” Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, and Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines U.K, said in a statement. 

All of these measures will be indefinitely enforced until more citizens are vaccinated and the pandemic seems to subside more in general. 12.6 million UK residents have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine so far, and the British government is set to announce the next phase of its vaccine rollout program at the start of next week.

Covid-19 Variants Causing Scientists To Rethink Vaccine Strategy

Top vaccine scientists throughout the world have made it known that current Covid-19 vaccine rollout programs need to be reexamined after variants of the virus are proving to be more resistant.