Study: Past COVID Infection Could Protect Against Colds

04:02 June 17, 2024

Study: Past COVID Infection Could Protect Against Colds

A new study suggests that people infected with COVID-19 in the past may receive protection against some kinds of common colds.

COVID-19 is one of several coronaviruses known to affect humans. The new research found that past COVID-19 infections can lower the risk of getting colds caused by other coronaviruses. Studies have shown coronaviruses account for about one in five colds.

Researchers involved in the study say their results could support future efforts to improve COVID-19 vaccines or develop new ones.

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

It showed that people previously infected with COVID-19 had a 50 percent lower chance of having a coronavirus-caused cold than those who were fully vaccinated and had not gotten COVID-19.

The research recently appeared in the publication Science Translational Medicine. The lead writer of the study was Dr. Manish Sagar. He is an infectious disease specialist at Boston Medical Center and a professor at Boston University in Massachusetts.

Sagar told the Associated Press, “We think there’s going to be a future outbreak of a coronavirus.” He said current coronavirus vaccines might be improved if researchers could copy some of the immune reactions “provided by natural infection.”

Researchers linked the protection against coronavirus-caused colds to virus-killing cell reactions for two viral proteins. These proteins are not currently used in most vaccines. But the researchers have proposed adding them in the future.

Sagar said this development may lead to future vaccines that could target not only current coronaviruses, but also new ones that might appear.

Dr. Wesley Long is a pathologist at Houston Methodist in Texas. He was not involved in the study. Long noted that the findings should not be seen as a weakness of current vaccines. These vaccines target a so-called “spike protein” contained in the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Long said those vaccines are “still your best defense against severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death.”

But Long added that new targets could be added to existing vaccines in an effort to “cross-protect against multiple viruses.” This process, he said, could result in wider immunity from a single vaccine.

I’m Bryan Lynn

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