T cells produced by the body as an immune response to the common cold offer protection against the coronavirus, according to a study released on Monday by Imperial College London.
The investigation examined for the first time how T cells in the presence of coronavirus can influence whether or not an individual can get infected, while previous studies have shown that T cells can recognize COVID-19.
Authors of the study, however, have warned of not relying on the common cold and urged people to continue taking the vaccine due to the strengths and protections offered by it.
“Being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t always result in infection, and we’ve been keen to understand why. We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against COVID-19 infection,” the author of the study Dr. Rhia Kundu said.
“While this is an important discovery, it is only one form of protection, and I would stress that no one should rely on this alone. Instead, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated, including getting your booster dose,” Kundu added.
The study was launched in September 2020 and examined 52 people who had neither been infected by the virus nor received the vaccine but had been exposed to the virus by means of living with an infected family member or friend.
Results of the research found that 26 people who had the common cold displayed higher levels of T cells and did not become infected compared to the other 26 people that contracted the virus. According to the study, the T cells target internal proteins of the virus and so offer protection against the latter.
According to researchers at Imperial College London, the study provides a blueprint to scientists for a so-called “second-generation universal vaccine” that would be able to prevent further infections from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as future variants related to the virus.