I’m a Covid researcher, but I’ve never tested positive. Studying variations in immune systems could lead to better vaccines.
The question of viral resistance has perplexed Mayana Zatz, a University of São Paulo genetics professor, for years, beginning with exploring the clinical variability of genetic diseases in patients who carried the same pathogenic mutation. She began with neuromuscular disorders like Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and then expanded to exploring why the Zika virus caused severe brain damage in some newborns while others were healthy.
Although several countries around the world continue to have high rates of Covid-19 infections, including the UK and US, many of their citizens are yet to be infected with the Sars-Cov-2 virus. This includes countless individuals who have knowingly been exposed, often multiple times, but have still never had a positive test.
Immune cells might ‘abort’ SARS-CoV-2 infection, forestalling a positive PCR or antibody test.
It's a common yet curious tale: a household hit by Covid, but one family member never tests positive or gets so much as a sniffle.
Meanwhile there are those who have had Covid and been double-jabbed and boosted, yet still pick up the virus again.
Understanding how some people naturally resist Covid infection, despite clearly being exposed to the virus, could lead to better vaccines, say researchers.
Many groups worldwide are trying to develop vaccines that protect against a wide range of coronaviruses and prevent another pandemic. These efforts have now been boosted by the discovery that some healthcare workers had pre-existing immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the first wave of the pandemic.
An international team of researchers wants to find people who are genetically resistant to SARS-CoV-2, in the hope of developing new drugs and treatments.
For example, we reported last year that blood type (particularly type O blood) seemed to show a slight resistance to severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. Then there's been other studies looking at proteins such as the ACE2 receptor or TMEM41B that the coronavirus seems to require to either enter or replicate once inside the cell.
We all know that person who, despite their entire household catching Covid-19, has never tested positive for the disease.