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Common cold in past may provide protection from COVID

People who have had a bout of seasonal or common cold in the past may get some protection from COVID-19, according to a study which suggests that immunity to the disease is likely to last a long time — maybe even a lifetime.

The study, published in the journal mBio, is the first to show that the COVID-19-causing virus, SARS-CoV-2, induces memory B cells, long-lived immune cells that detect pathogens, create antibodies to destroy them and remember them for the future.

The next time that pathogen tries to enter the body, those memory B cells can hop into action even faster to clear the infection before it starts, according to the researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in the U.S.

Because memory B cells can survive for decades, they could protect COVID-19 survivors from subsequent infections for a long time, but further research will have to confirm this.

The study is also the first to report cross-reactivity of memory B cells — meaning B cells that once attacked cold-causing coronaviruses appeared to also recognise SARS-CoV-2. PTI