Could T-cells be key in the fight against Omicron?
January 11, 2022
Omicron is spreading rapidly throughout the world.
It has been claimed the Covid variant could infect up to 40 per cent of the global population by March of this year.
On paper, the number of cases is startling. However, new research has offered hope that the impact of Omicron is being thwarted, not only by antibodies but also by the human immune system.
Scientists at the University of Melbourne, in conjunction with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, have discovered that, while Omicron has a higher number of mutations than other variants and can slip past the antibodies produced by vaccination or previous infection, our own T-cells – white blood cells that originate in the marrow – will also attack the virus effectively.
T-cells work by identifying cells that have been infected by the virus, latching on to them, and killing them.
Researchers believe that, by working together with the antibodies, T-cells are reducing the impact of Omicron. As a result, the symptoms are less severe than those associated with previous mutations, and fewer people are requiring hospital treatment.
This is good news, but the great news is that T-cells have an innate ‘muscle memory’ that helps them to remember previous infections and to respond faster and more robustly to similar future incidents.
It is hoped this will prove invaluable as and when future variants appear. However, we should avoid becoming complacent to the potential impact of Covid and should continue to take precautions to prevent its spread.
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