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How the common cold could protect against COVID-19 this fall
Throughout 2020, doctors and health experts warned that cold and flu season could make the dangers of the pandemic even worse.
In fact, we often heard that with more viruses circulating, we could chance getting even sicker, doubling our chances of health problems if we were to come down with Covid plus the flu or common cold.
Well, it turns out those warnings might have been wrong, and getting a cold could be helpful if you end up with COVID-19 this fall…
Stimulating early response to halt viral replication
That’s because new research from a team of scientists at Yale University have now found that rhinovirus (the most frequent cause of the common cold) could have the power to stop the replication of Covid.
Here’s how it works…
When your body is exposed to rhinovirus, it jump-starts the activity of interferon-stimulated genes, early response molecules in your immune system. And if you’re then infected with SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — these molecules are ready and waiting to protect you.
This is vital in any battle against a virus, but with Covid, it’s especially important, because as Ellen Foxman, assistant professor of laboratory medicine and immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine and senior author of the study says, “There appears to be a viral sweet spot at the beginning of COVID-19, during which the virus replicates exponentially before it triggers a strong defense response,”
Research has shown that in the first few days of infection, Covid replicates FAST–doubling every six hours during this time!
That makes the initial days crucial in whether or not you end up with a mild versus a severe case.
So having those molecules ready to block that replication can mean the difference in a small cough versus ending up on a ventilator.
And that’s exactly what the Yale team says getting a cold does for you!
They had already found that common cold viruses may protect against influenza. So that led them to investigate whether or not rhinoviruses would have the same beneficial impact against the COVID-19 virus.
The team found that replication of the COVID-19 virus was completely stopped in airway tissue that had been infected with the rhinovirus.
That’s right — completely stopped!
This means that simply having a cold when Covid comes around could be the key to defeating the infection.
Cold season could bring an extra layer of protection
The researchers say that these findings could explain why rates of infection of other viruses like the flu go down during times of the year when colds are common.
This could prove helpful as we move through the summer and approach the cold season since experts had worried that the common cold could come back with a vengeance with relaxed social distancing.
So if you get the common cold, just remember as you suffer the symptoms that it’s well worth it, if it’s halting the replication of the COVID-19 virus.
Fortunately, you may not have to catch a cold to enjoy this type of COVID protection. Interferon treatment could be used prophylactically in people at high risk who have been in close contact with others diagnosed with COVID-19 to stimulate the interferon genes I mentioned earlier, that were responsible for jump-starting the early immune response. Trials of interferon in COVID-19 are underway, and so far show a possible benefit early in infection, but not when given later.
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Common cold combats COVID-19 — EurekAlert!