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COVID-19 does something to your immune system

Researchers recently revealed how COVID-19 hurts your immune system

Sage Turek takes a COVID-19 saliva test.
Sage Turek takes a COVID-19 saliva test at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City, where the University of Utah Health Wellness Bus set up shop on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Scientists recently said the novel coronavirus creates a reaction in your immune system that is hard to recover from, USA Today reports.

What’s going on?

Scientists said that some COVID-19 patients have immune cells that aren’t prepared to fight the novel coronavirus. So these immune cells, when faced with the coronavirus, respond “with a devastating release of chemicals, inflicting damage that may endure long after the threat has been eliminated,” according to USA Today.

Dr. Nina Luning Prak — who co-authored a study on COVID-19 and the immune system — told USA Today that the immune system gives a huge effort to fight COVID-19.

  • “If you have a brand-new virus and the virus is winning, the immune system may go into an ‘all hands on deck’ response,” Prak said “Things that are normally kept in close check are relaxed. The body may say, ‘Who cares. Give me all you’ve got.’”

Some COVID-19 symptoms — from strokes to blood clots — are caused due to the body’s immune system is trying to fight off the virus and ends up attacking the patient instead, USA Today reports.

Flashback

Back in December 2020, a study labeled the novel coronavirus as the “autoimmune virus” because of how much damage it inflicts on the autoimmune system.

  • “The reported inflammatory/autoimmune-related symptoms by patients, the appearance of circulating autoantibodies and the diagnosis of defined diverse autoimmune diseases in a subgroup of SARS-CoV-2-infected patients, indicate the critical and pivotal effect of SARS-CoV-2 virus on human immunity, and its capability to trigger autoimmune disorders, in genetically predispose subjects.”

Why this matters

This could be a huge deal as we consider our future against the novel coronavirus. We have vaccines beginning to roll out, which is building immunity to the virus. But, as Nature.com points out, we’re still unsure how long the immunity will last because it’s unclear how the human immune system reacts to COVID-19.

  • Vaccines “in animal studies and small human studies, provoke at least short-term immune responses. But there is no quick and simple experiment that can firmly determine whether immunity will be effective or lasting. It is just too soon to know,” according to an article on the scientific journal Nature’s website.
  • “Only the future can tell us,” said Reinhold Förster, an immunologist at the Hanover Medical School in Germany, according to Nature.