Researchers believe that stronger vaccinations could be developed, if they can figure out why some people naturally resist COVID symptoms despite being exposed to the virus.
T-cells to improve vaccines
A study was carried out by a team at University College London to assess how some people build an immunity to COVID, before the pandemic spread.
Protective T-cells, which recognize and destroy cells infected with COVID, were found in the blood samples of health workers.
One of the researchers, Dr. Leo Swadling, stated that their immune systems were already ‘poised’ to tackle the new illness.
Despite being in a high-risk situation, not all the participants in the research contracted COVID. The findings, which were published in the journal Nature, revealed that some people were able to prevent contracting the virus.
Dr Alexander Edwards, from the University of Reading, said:
Insights from this study could be critical in the design of a different type of vaccine.
The presence of spike protein, which coats the COVID virus' surface, is usually the target of most vaccines. However, these rare T-cells are able to look further inside the virus and find the proteins that are important for it to replicate.
Internal proteins in all related coronavirus strains, including those that are ubiquitous and induce typical cold symptoms, are quite similar. Which shows us that a vaccination targeting these proteins will provide protection against all COVID strains.
The existing immunizations, according to the researchers, were effective in protecting patients from the common flu, but not enough to prevent them from contracting COVID.
Professor Mala Maini, in conversation with BBC, said:
What we're hoping, by including these T-cells, is that they might be able to protect against infection as well as disease, and we hope they would be better at recognising new variants that arise.