A group of scientists from the University of Gothenburg has gone another step forward in their quest to learn how the immune system acquires resistance to COVID-19. According to the findings from a new study a hidden immune feature helps the unvaccinated defeat Covid.
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156 personnel from five primary care health institutions were enlisted during April and May 2020, and the scientists at the University’s Sahlgrenska Academy researched them for six months. During the peak of the pandemic, none of these staff had been immunized against COVID-19, and the bulk of them had to work with sick patients on a regular basis.
They found IgA (immunoglobulin A) in the respiratory tracts of numerous of the individuals who were not infected with COVID-19, suggesting that they had an antidote in their immune systems all along.
These antibodies are located in mucous membrane secretions in the airways and gastrointestinal tract, wherein they defend the body by attaching to viruses and other invaders.
An antidote in the immune system
Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, COVID-19, an infectious disease produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has resulted in the deaths of almost 6 million individuals. Indeed, according to certain experts, the actual number of lives lost to the COVID-19 by the end of 2021 was 18.2 million, upwards of three times the reported death toll.
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Certain people seem to be more seriously affected than some others, with some reporting very minimal signs and others being hospitalized and needing breathing assistance. The goal of this study was to find health characteristics that seemed to protect unvaccinated people from COVID-19.
“We all have IgA,” stated Christine Wenners, a member of the research group and professor of clinical bacteriology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, as well as a senior physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. “It’s found on the mucous membranes, and COVID-19 is an infection that spreads via those membranes. We thought it was important to investigate what happened when completely healthy people encountered the coronavirus, before vaccines became available.”
“Of the participants in our study, none whom contracted COVID-19 required hospitalization,” she continued. “A lot of other research has concerned the most seriously ill patients, who have been hospitalized and in need of intensive care.”
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A third of the care staff produced antibodies against COVID-19, per the findings of a study published in the European Journal of Immunology (read below), and they were divided into two groups based on antibody patterns and COVID-19 incidence.
COVID-19 had no effect on one group of people who only had IgA antibodies. Participants in the other group, who possessed both IgG antibodies and T cells, became ill.
IgA antibodies were found in all of the individuals who did not test positive or who were ill. Being female and having a respiratory allergy were two other variables that tended to protect against infection.
The results, on the other hand, refutes the idea that those who do not have antibodies towards COVID-19 have protective T cells, which are immune system cells that target particular foreign particles.
It is worth noting that the majority of COVID-19 vaccinations are extremely successful in preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death. In fact, as the Omicron subvariant BA.2 takes over as the prevalent form of COVID-19 in many countries, researchers have observed that two doses of COVID immunization appear to minimize the likelihood of infection caused by the new subvariant.
Read the full study below: