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Childhood colds don’t prevent COVID-19 infection, new study finds

A new study disputes the theory that childhood colds created antibodies for people

New data suggests a COVID-19 variant doesn’t account for new COVID-19 cases.
This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. A new study disputes the theory that childhood colds created antibodies for people.
NIAID-RML via Associated Press

A new study published in the online journal Cell suggests that an ongoing theory that children develop antibodies to fight COVID-19 from coronaviruses that cause common colds isn’t true, raising questions about what protects children from the coronavirus.

What was the theory?

According to The New York Times, there had been an ongoing theory in the scientific community that kids were less vulnerable to the novel coronavirus because they carried antibodies that they developed from other common coronaviruses, which cause the common cold.

  • “The notion gained traction particularly among people who claimed that this existing protection would swiftly bring human populations to herd immunity, the point at which a pathogen’s spread slows to a halt as it runs out of hosts to infect,” according to The New York Times.
  • In fact, a study published in December gave some credit to the theory.

So what’s new?

The new study — which conducted a number of tests and experiments on the coronavirus and reviewed blood samples — found that antibodies from other common coronaviruses don’t stop COVID-19.

Most people suffer from seasonal coronavirus at 5 years old, the researchers found. And about 1 in 5 (or 20%) people developed the right antibodies to recognize the virus. But those antibodies can’t defeat the virus or lessen the severity of symptoms, the study said.

  • “These antibodies were not associated with protection against SARS-CoV-2 infections or hospitalizations, but they were boosted upon SARS-CoV-2 infection,” according to the study.

What’s protecting children?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been questions about why children suffer less severe symptoms of COVID-19 compared to adults. The answer as to why remains unclear. But there’s a new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine that suggested that children who received their flu shot were less likely to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms. More research is still being conducted, though.