CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (WCIA) – “Now they have a memory for Covid, and now they went to get the Covid vaccine,” said Dr. Awais Vaid.
He says some people may be extra protected against the coronavirus and not even know it. Many families are getting ready to celebrate their second holiday season during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some will be vaccinated, but others will not. Now a new study examines why the virus will attack some people who are exposed and others not.
It could mean that future vaccines offer people better protection. Much research still needs to be done. For now, it’s another way for experts to understand what Covid is doing and why some people are better protected than others.
“One person would become infected and they would become positive and with the same exposure, a second person and a third person could be just fine,” Vaid said. “So their immune system may have been fighting infections just a little bit better.”
Many of us know someone who has been exposed to Covid but never tested positive.
“If you get infected with it, you may not have any symptoms at all, you may not be sick at all, but you still had an exposure,” Vaid said. “The body identified that exposure. It was very mild, so the body built up antibodies.”
Champaign Urbana Public Health Epidemiologist, Awais Vaid, says there’s a reason for that. He says that person may have had a strong immune system or they may have already been exposed and didn’t know they had the virus at some point.
“So the next time you’re exposed, the body remembers that, it’s built antibodies that will fight the infection better,” Vaid said.
It’s not always just antibodies that do the job. A new study at University College London found that T cells may have helped some people fight the virus. T cells are part of the immune system. Some people have T cells that can remember previous illnesses, react quickly and quickly fight new viruses, including Covid-19.
It’s important research, but Vaid says it’s important to remember that antibodies, or T-cell memory, don’t provide enough protection.
“People think that if they tested positive, that should be good enough, it will last a lifetime,” Vaid said. “Not every disease is like that.”
Vaccination remains an important layer of protection against a changing virus, he says.
“The mutations we see in Covid are mutating and changing,” Vaid said. “It started with the alpha, then the beta and now the delta. The body doesn’t recognize all these mutations too.”
Vaid says current Covid vaccines do activate that T-cell immune response, but it’s not direct and not as strong. He says some researchers are developing vaccines to target the T-cell response, but they’ll have to see the data before they know how well that works.