Common cold could help suppress the Covid-19 virus - the new findings explained

By Rhona Shennan
Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 9:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 9:50 am
New research indicates that the common cold could help in the fight against Covid-19 (Photo: Shutterstock)
New research indicates that the common cold could help in the fight against Covid-19 (Photo: Shutterstock)

According to a new study, the immune response that is triggered by the common cold virus could offer some level of protection against Covid-19.

Research conducted by scientists in Glasgow, funded by the Medical Research COuncil (MRC), found that human rhinovirus triggers a response which appears to block SARS-CoV-2 replication in cells of the respiratory tract.

Human rhinoviruses cause the common cause, and are the most widespread respiratory viruses found in people.

The researchers ran mathematical simulations which suggest the interaction between the two viruses, and an increasing prevalence of rhinovirus, could reduce the number of new Covid-19 cases.

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    ‘Could provide protection against Covid-19’

    Professor Pablo Murcia, from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said: “Our research shows that human rhinovirus triggers an innate immune response in human respiratory epithelial cells which blocks the replication of the Covid-19 virus.

    “This means that the immune response caused by mild, common cold virus infections, could provide some level of transient protection against [Covid-19], potentially blocking transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and reducing the severity of Covid-19.

    “The next stage will be to study what is happening at the molecular level during these virus-virus interactions, to understand more about their impact on disease transmission.

    “We can then use this knowledge to our advantage, hopefully developing strategies and control measures for Covid-19 infections.

    “In the meantime, vaccination is our best method of protection against Covid-19.”

    Common cold creates antibodies

    A study from November 2020 also showed that common cold antibodies, created by the immune system and more commonly found in children between the ages of six and 16, could provide a level of protection against Covid-19.

    This is according to research from the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH), Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) the Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College London.

    The study explained: “When infected with a virus, the immune system will create antibodies to help fight the virus.

    “The antibodies will remain in the blood, able to fight that virus again more quickly if it returns.”