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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Leduc Catlin

The Upside of Colds & Flus

If nothing else good comes out of our coronacrisis, understanding science a little better would at least be a step forward.

In understanding, we would cease to panic over things that do not actually threaten us.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and misuse of science out there.

So let’s learn the basics of immunity, together, shall we?

(Please forgive the dumbing down.

Science is not my first language.

In other words, it’s not you, it’s me.)

An antigen is a (usually) foreign substance in our bodies that stimulates an immune response.

Like an antagonist threatening the hero to the point where the hero needs a gang of antibodies to get rid of said antagonist.

Sars-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is the antigen we’re focused on here.

When this virus (or any other foreign virus, bacteria, or poison) enters the body, antibodies are formed to latch onto these foreign antigens and remove them.

“Once begun, antibody production continues for several days until all antigen molecules are removed. Antibodies remain in circulation for several months, providing extended immunity against that particular antigen.”


So once we’ve had C-19, we’ve got the protection of antibodies for months.

But then what?

Does that mean we lose our natural immunity?

The media and government have been focused on vaccination as the only means of obtaining immunity.

But not everyone is comfortable with an experimental injection using new technology that will remain in the clinical trial stage until 2023.

Nor is it available for everyone.

Until now, tests for natural immunity have been focused solely on antibodies.

But wait!

According to a brand new study from the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, T-cells are the unsung heroes of C-19.

From the News Medical article on the study...

“…not a single incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was observed in previously infected participants with or without vaccination.”

So vaccination is unnecessary for those who have been previously infected.

We have natural immunity.

But how does that work if antibodies are only in the body for a few months?

This is where our T-cells come in.

From Ask A Biologist, I got this explanation:

“T-cells are like a special forces unit that fights only one kind of virus that might be attacking your body.”

It seems we’ve got millions of T-cells, each uniquely targeting a different antigen.

What do they do?

“They attack infected cells, foreign cells, and cancer cells and completely destroy them. This stops viruses or cancer from spreading to healthy cells.”

The article on the Cleveland Clinic study goes on to conclude…

“The study findings reveal that individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection do not get additional benefits from vaccination, indicating that COVID-19 vaccines should be prioritized to individuals without prior infection.”

Our T-cells protect those who have already had C-19, thus making it unnecessary to vaccinate them.

But wait!

It seems that these brilliant T-cells don’t just kill the exact antigens that they’ve come across.

They are smart enough to put 2 and 2 together.

That explains this fascinating and hopeful headline and article from The Telegraph just a few days ago, based on another new study:

According to the study upon which this article is based, many of the high risk healthcare workers they followed never tested positive for C-19.

It seems their T-cell response kicked in, even though they likely never had Covid.

Instead, the response was based on prior exposure to regular old common cold coronaviruses, HCoVs.

“…the T-cells had ramped up targeted areas of the genetic code shared by both colds and Covid. The T-cells were so effective in clearing out the infection that the healthcare workers never developed antibodies to the disease.”

The T-cells of the participants in the study were so good at their job of immune protection that they figured out that Sars-CoV-2 is another coronavirus, like the HCoVs they had previously encountered.

And they killed them.

What does this mean?

“…the majority of people actually have quite effective natural immunity to the virus…”

These results, the article and the study conclude, suggest that testing for antibodies might be missing the full picture of who is already immune.

So the goal of “full vaccination” is at best unnecessary.

Which is good news!

We don’t need to vaccinate those who don’t want to be vaccinated, or who can’t be vaccinated.

In developing public health strategies going forward, we must include natural immunity.

We must acknowledge the heroic efforts of our own intelligent bodies to fight the good fight, and allow ourselves to reap the rewards of past colds and flus!


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