There are still thousands of COVID-19 cases per day across the United States. But questions are rising about those who never caught COVID-19 — or at least those who thought they never had COVID-19.

Driving the news: Dr. Zania Stamataki, a senior lecturer and researcher in viral immunology at the University of Birmingham, recently explored this topic in a piece for The Guardian.

  • “Some people may clear the virus quickly because they have pre-existing antibodies and memory immune cells that recognize the virus,” Stamataki wrote.
  • “There is also a possibility that different immune systems respond differently to the virus.”
  • “It is also possible that some of us may have rare types of ACE2 that the coronavirus spike cannot stick to.”
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Symptoms: Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, said that there are people who might have COVID-19 but would never know it because they either didn’t have COVID-19 symptoms or blamed their COVID-19 symptoms on something else, according to WebMD.

  • “People may have conceivably — but we can’t define them yet — different capacities to ward off viruses or bacteria,” he said, per WebMD.

Yes, but: Schaffner said those who never had COVID-19 should not assume they have “a suit of armor.”

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What’s next: Axios reported that the “never COVID” group could help scientists understand how to build a vaccine that could protect the world against new variants.

  • John Brooks, chief medical officer for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Response Team, told Axios that the idea of the “never COVID” group is “very intriguing,” but “we don’t know very often why someone did or did not get infected in sufficient detail to nail it.”
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