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Could ‘super immunity’ prepare us for the next COVID variant?

Researchers are looking into COVID-19 super immunity to see if that can prepare us for the next COVID-19 variant

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The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. Are we prepared for the next COVID-9 variant?

NIAID-RML via Associated Press

Researchers are trying to figure out what makes someone super immune to the coronavirus because it might protect us from what comes next.

Virologists Theodora Hatziioannou and Paul Bieniasz, who both work at the Rockefeller University in New York City, are looking into why some people infected with the novel coronavirus can ward off different COVID-19 variants and why others can’t.

  • For example, the researchers found there are people who can block off a mutant coronavirus because of the antibodies they developed from infection and vaccination.
  • “It’s very likely they will be effective against any future variant that SARS-CoV-2 throws against them,” said Hatziioannou, according to Nature.com.

Indeed, there has been talk about people getting “superhuman” or “bulletproof” immunity to the coronavirus. As NPR reported, a series of studies found there are people who have “an extraordinarily powerful immune response” to the novel coronavirus.

  • These people — who were infected with COVID-19 and took the COVID-19 vaccine — produced a number of antibodies “capable of fighting off the coronavirus variants circulating in the world but also likely effective against variants that may emerge in the future,” according to NPR.

Researchers said they hope that figuring out the difference between the immune protection from infection and the immunity protection from the vaccine can help us prepare for the next coronavirus variant, according to Nature.com.

  • “It has implications on boosters and how our immune responses are primed for the next variant that emerges,” Mehul Suthar, a virologist at Emory University in Atlanta told Nature.com. “We’re flying by the seat of our pants trying to figure this stuff out.”