Is It Luck or Super Immunity? Scientists Explain How Certain People Have Managed to Avoid COVID

Is It Luck or Super Immunity? Scientists Explain How Certain People Have Managed to Avoid COVID
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For as long as we’ve been talking about COVID-19 (seemingly forever), there have been conversations about how to avoid catching the virus. And that makes sense because, obviously, no one wants to become sick with an illness that has the potential to cause some fairly serious health problems. In recent weeks, however, there has been a bit of a shift in that folks are becoming increasingly interested in the reasons some people appear to have been able to dodge a positive COVID diagnosis time and time again.

Why is it that amid a sea of positive cases, some people just don’t get COVID-19 – even when possibly exposed?

We’ve done a little reading and here’s what we’ve uncovered.

Why do some people appear more immune to COVID?

Dr Vanessa Bryant, lead of the Immunogenetics Research Laboratory at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, recently spoke with the ABC about the phenomenon and why some people seem to have higher immunity against COVID-19 than others.

She explained that there is some luck to it and although it may seem you’re invincible in the face of COVID-19, “that’s not true at all”.

While there are some clear considerations, like how recently you’ve had your vaccine (the more recent the better your defence is) or whether you’ve had a vaccine at all (hopefully, yes), there are some things that are a little more dependant on your body specifically.

“Everyone’s immune system is slightly different,” Dr Bryant said.

“Some people might generate an immune response that just makes better antibodies … and we do think this is largely genetic.”

Writing for The Guardian, COVID researcher Zania Stamataki wrote that other possibilities to consider are 1. You may genuinely have never been exposed; 2. You’ve come into contact with Sars-CoV-2 but your body cleared it “before it developed into the disease Covid (abortive infection)” or 3. You’ve already had it, but were asymptomatic and didn’t know.

Interestingly, Stamataki highlighted that in certain cases “Some people may clear the virus quickly because they have pre-existing antibodies and memory immune cells that recognise the virus. These could be cross-reactive memory T-cells generated previously to fight similar coronaviruses that cause the common cold”.

So, in essence, you may have gotten sick in recent months with something that wasn’t COVID-19 but was similar to it and your body was able to dodge infection because of the immunity built from that.

Then, as highlighted in the piece from the ABC, there is the possibility that some people are just naturally a little more naturally resistant to the virus so are less likely to catch COVID-19.

No, that doesn’t mean they don’t need a vaccine. Being vaccinated only helps the whole situation.

What does all of this mean?

Overwhelmingly, the spikes in case numbers during COVID waves show that the majority of people are not able to magically dodge infection when exposed.

But the small number of people that appear more immune to COVID-19 bring up some pretty interesting questions about how our bodies work, and they offer experts a chance to explore more ways in which we can continue to protect people from infection and possible future strains.

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