Scientists are looking for people who are immune to the novel coronavirus
COVID-19 is a disease that presents a wide variety of effects in different people, from those who simply go through a mild illness, to those who perish. However, there are also reasons to think that there are those who are immune to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the current pandemic.
For this reason, a research team from five countries (Brazil, France, Greece, United States and Canada) intends to carry out a study with people who have been highly exposed to coronavirus and who have not been infected, specifically two cases: those whose partners have had COVID-19 (and were physically close during), and those who have not followed the safety measures and have interacted with many people.
This is because, almost two years since the start of the pandemic, there is still no information on genetic immunity to this infection, according to the article published in the medical journal Nature Immunology.
The study will not focus on asymptomatic people or people with a mild infection, rather on those who show total absence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which indicates that the virus did not infect their body, even though they were proven to be exposed to it.
There is also genetic immunity to HIV
For the study approach, researchers start from the fact that there has been genetic immunity detected for other infectious microorganisms.
As an example of this, there is the case of HIV. Fourty years after the appearance of the virus, we currently know that there are people who cannot become infected with the virus, basically because their defense cells lack a protein that HIV needs in order to anchor and enter the cell.
Since the virus can no longer enter the cell, it has no way of reproducing and thus, even if HIV enters the body, the infection never takes place.
In this same way, research on COVID-19 establishes that, along with understanding the genetic immunity mechanism for coronavirus, the infection mechanism for SARS-CoV-2, could be better understood as well.
In search of knowledge
The ratio of humanity that is naturally resistant to SARS-CoV-2 is still unknown, however some studies have shown clues of the genes that could be involved in this phenomenon, the authors explain.
The aim of this investigation will be to look for those potentially rare genes which play a big part in preventing the infection, setting aside the genes that have been observed to have a lesser effect.
Up until now, the study has recruited more than 400 people, but scientists clarify that the recruitment process is till open and welcomes people from all over the world.