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Past COVID infections may help protect against certain colds - Study

The cover of the Number 1 Shimbun is seen in Tokyo on 19 May 2020   -  
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Eugene Hoshiko/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.


If you’ve been sick with COVID-19, you may have some protection against certain versions of the common cold.

A new study suggests previous COVID-19 infections lower the risk of getting colds caused by milder coronavirus cousins, which could provide a key to broader COVID-19 vaccines.

"What is it about that infection that helps you protect against a related, but not identical coronavirus? And can we replicate that with a vaccine?" said Dr. Manish Sagar, senior author of the study published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The study looked at COVID-19 PCR tests from more than 4,900 people who sought medical care between November 2020 and October 2021.

After controlling for things like age, gender and preexisting conditions, Sagar said he and his colleagues found people previously infected with COVID-19 had about a 50% lower chance of having a symptomatic coronavirus-caused common cold compared with people who were, at the time, fully vaccinated and hadn’t yet gotten COVID-19.

Several viruses cause colds; coronaviruses are thought to be responsible for about 1 in 5 colds.

Researchers linked the protection against coronavirus-caused colds to virus-killing cell responses for two specific viral proteins. These proteins aren’t used in most vaccines now, but researchers propose adding them in the future.

"The idea would be that, the future coronavirus vaccines would already we already have universal or, broader coverage against, coronaviruses that may emerge in the future," said Sagar of Boston Medical Center.