COVID-19: A Cure for Colds?
A COVID-19 infection might provide enhanced protection against the common cold, a study found. The coronavirus spike protein helps determine virus attachment and entry into host cells, making it a primary target for “neutralizing antibodies and a key component for vaccine development,” according to a study from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. COVID-19 cases appear surging again in the U.S., with deaths from the virus already around one million (some report 1m has already been passed but exact figures are contested.)
Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that there is “no chance” that we can eliminate SARS-CoV-2. A number of previous studies have looked at the connection between pre-pandemic coronaviruses that cause seasonal colds and COVID-19. A January 2022 study from Imperial College found initial evidence that people with high levels of T-cells from the common cold virus were less likely to be infected with COVID-19
Good Test Results with 4th Booster Shot
But scientists say any short-term protection against infection is likely to fall away quickly.
The UK rolled out fourth doses to over-75s and the most vulnerable in April.
A larger group of people may be offered a booster in the autumn, but any decision will be based on advice from the UK’s vaccine committee.
It is likely to look at whether new worrying variants are spreading, and Covid pressure on hospitals.
Some countries, such as Israel and Germany, have already started offering all adults a fourth dose.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said the study findings were “further evidence underlining the importance of people coming forward for their booster as soon as they are eligible”.
The study of 133 people, two weeks after their fourth dose, found the vaccines were “well-tolerated” and “boosted immunity”.
The researchers said “peak responses after the fourth dose were similar to, and possibly better than, peak responses after the third dose”.
On the up
But the study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, concluded that a large increase in anti-spike antibodies would probably wane rapidly, as was seen after third doses.
All participants, some of whom were over 70 and some under 70, were vaccinated with a dose of Pfizer or a half dose of Moderna about six months after having their third dose.
“There was good boosting in all groups, particularly for the over-70s, and the half dose of Moderna was slightly higher,” said Prof Saul Faust, Cov-Boost, study leader from the University of Southampton.
Another part of the immune system called T-cells were also boosted after the fourth dose, which suggests longer-lasting protection against severe disease was increased.
Prof Faust pointed out that the recent Omicron wave means most people will have been infected recently and now have high antibody levels, which means they are unlikely to gain much from another dose.
The study is small and more research is needed over a longer time frame to track how long the immune response lasts.
The UK regulator, the MHRA, decides whether vaccines are safe to use, while the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advises health ministers on whether they should be used and who would benefit from them.