If you come down with COVID-19, there may be a sliver of a silver lining: it could help protect you against the common cold.
SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a large family of coronaviruses that include common cold viruses. Because viruses in this family have similar spike proteins, immune system antibodies against one coronavirus spike protein could potentially also recognize spike proteins in other coronaviruses.
This suggests that previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 could help protect against other coronaviruses, including those that cause colds, according to a new study published on Wednesday (May 4) in the journal Science Advances by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.
“The end goal of this would be to rationally design vaccines that can recognize many different coronaviruses,” said study co-author Sandhya Bangaru, a postdoctoral research associate.
“Most people have this baseline immunity to common coronaviruses, and exposure to SARS-CoV-2 increases the levels of these antibodies,” Bangaru said.
“Getting a better understanding of how immunity against this broad family of coronaviruses changes with COVID-19 infection is an important step toward developing better coronavirus vaccines, both for COVID-19 and for future, related pathogens,” co-author Andrew Ward said in the release.