Past COVID-19 infection may protect people against some common colds

Past COVID-19 infection may protect people against some common colds

A previous COVID-19 infection may lower your risk of getting a cold caused by a milder coronavirus cousin, according to new research.

Endemic coronaviruses are thought to be responsible for 15 to 30 per cent of common colds in adults.

Researchers found that people previously infected with COVID-19 had a 50 per cent lower chance of having a common cold caused by a coronavirus compared with people who were fully vaccinated and did not get COVID-19.

“We think there’s going to be a future outbreak of a coronavirus,” said Dr Manish Sagar, senior author of the study published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Vaccines potentially could be improved if we could replicate some of the immune responses that are provided by natural infection," he added.

Researchers said the study may help in the development of future vaccines against COVID-19 that also protect against related coronaviruses.

“Our studies would suggest that these may be novel strategies for better vaccines that not only tackle the current coronaviruses, but any potential future one that may emerge,” said Sagar of Boston Medical Center.

'Broader-based immunity'

Dr Wesley Long, a pathologist at Houston Methodist in Texas who was not involved in the study, said the findings shouldn’t be seen as a knock against current vaccines, which target the “spike” protein studding the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

These vaccines, he said, are “still your best defence against severe COVID-19 infection, hospitalisation and death".

But he added: “If we can find targets that cross-protect among multiple viruses, we can either add those to specific vaccines or start to use those as vaccine targets that would give us broader-based immunity from a single vaccination. And that would be really cool".