Never thought my physiology degree would be worth anything. But here we are!
Our immune system has special types of cells with different functions: 1) B-cells (antibodies) latch on to the virus so they can’t enter the cells; 2) T-cells find and destroy the virus (and then remember who they need to destroy). T-cells have been found effective in MERS and SARS, but their role in COVID19 has not been clear.
One study in Singapore was just published on COVID19 t-cells. Briefly, they found:
• T-cell response is high among mild COVID19 cases (unlike the antibody studies we have seen)
• Interestingly, healthy people have COVID19 t-cells. This be due to exposure to other related coronaviruses, such as the common cold and SARS. This MAY explain why some people control the infection (and recover much better) than others.
• T-cells lasted over 17 years among SARS survivors, and the SARS t-cells WORK against COVID19
So far, all vaccines being developed target B-cells (antibodies), but scientists are starting to explore the potential of leveraging T-cells for therapeutic options. The problem is t-cells are much more complicated to analyze compared to antibodies. If fact, they require a special laboratory. So, we can’t do large population-based studies like we saw in Spain (https://yourlocalepidemiologist.com/?p=214).
To my knowledge, there are only three other published studies on this topic (regarding COVID19). I’ve included them below.
Love, your local epidemiologist
• Diao et al, 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32425950/
• Grifoni et al, 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32473127/
• Weiskopf et al, 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32591408/
•Le Bert et al., 2020 (Singapore study): https://www.nature.com/arti…/s41586-020-2550-z_reference.pdf