More than 80% of the people who contract the COVID-19 virus experience only mild-to-moderate symptoms and are able to recover within days. And there’s now a new study in the journal of Nature Medicine, that shows how.
In this study, the researchers from the University of Melbourne have been able to understand that even though COVID-19 is caused by a new virus – a healthy and robust immune system mounts a strong defense, similar to one observed against influenza, leading to clinical recovery.
How The Immune System Responds To COVID-19
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The study involved one of the first hospital patients in Australia, an otherwise healthy woman in her 40s, who had traveled to Melbourne from Wuhan and presented with lethargy, sore throat, dry cough, a fever and shortness of breath, 4 days after the initial onset of her symptoms.
Researchers had her blood samples collected on days 7, 8, 9, and 20 following symptom onset and found that at days 7-9, there was a surge in Immunoglobulin G and Immunoglobulin M – two of the most common antibody types, rushing to fight the virus. They also saw that a huge number of helper T cells, Killer T cells and B cells, all-important immune cells were also active in the patient’s blood, leading them to the conclusion that the patient’s body was deploying its many weapons against the new virus.
Noticing a surge in the immune cells three days after she was admitted, a typical sign of recovery in the seasonal influenza infection, the researchers predicted that the patient would recover in three days. And she did.
The patient was able to leave the hospital on day 11 after the symptom onset, into self-isolation, and was symptom-free by day 13.
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All we can do during these stressful times, is to sit tight and let our immune system do its job (and support it).
And it sure does look like it’s one hell of a fighter.
Thevarajan, I., Nguyen, T.H.O., Koutsakos, M. et al. Breadth of concomitant immune responses prior to patient recovery: a case report of non-severe COVID-19. Nat Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0819-2