Understanding the body’s immune response to COVID is important to stopping its response.
Antibodies have been being talked about a lot lately with the onset of omicron, the latest COVID variant. As a protein used by one’s immune system to fight against pathogenic bacteria and viruses, they play a crucial role in fending off the variant. There are antigen-binding sites at both tips and the remainder is constant. Antibodies from different classes also differ in where they are released in the body and at what stage of an immune response process in order to combat foreign pathogens. Thus, is it important to understand and deconstruct which of these are especially important in helping to maintain health, and in doing so, which will be most effective in fighting against all of COVID’s variants. It is also important to recognize whether it is best to receive a vaccine and booster or rely on the body’s own, preexisting system.
There is now evidence that individuals will see COVID symptoms drop from “75 percent to 45 percent for more than ten weeks after receiving the booster and allowing those antibodies to filtrate through the immune system,” according to recent data.
When one has COVID, the body produces white blood cells called lymphocytes. There are B cells, which make antibodies, and T cells, which help with the creation of B cell antibodies to wipe out the virus. Some of both cells understand how to react when they meet the virus, producing antibodies to stop the infection. This is why antibodies are so important.
Research has shown that generating reactive T cells in the body that are able to identify the viral parts of COVID allow for the body to properly fend it off. If there are T cells that are less able to do so, than the response in the body is more detrimental. Some individuals who have had severe cases have been found to have an insufficient T cell response. T cell vaccines could be the key to boosting immunity and generating protection against an initial COVID infection and variants. COVID isn’t the only virus that can be properly fended off with a vaccine, either, and research has shown that this is effective for the common cold and influenza as well.
In a January 2022 study published in Nature Communications, the authors “strongly suggest[ed] that the SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells…pre-existing.” This means that healthy individuals who already had T cells that were able to fend off the virus had a much better immune response rate than those who did not already possess these reactive cells. Moreover, the team found that this “is indicative of a pre-existing memory T cell phenotype rather than de novo expanded T cells in response to recent antigen exposure.”
This suggests that “despite mass deployment of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2…[and their effectiveness] against infection remain unknown. Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 does not universally result in infection and pre-existing T cells, primed by endemic human coronaviruses (huCoVs), might mediate protection in SARS-CoV-2-naive persons. Studies to date have described the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive T cells in naive healthy controls and in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. However, no study yet describes an association of cross-reactive T cells with outcome after SARS-CoV-2 exposure.” More research needs to be done around this topic.