What are T-cells?”, I was asked over (socially distant) drinks this weekend. They’re being discussed a lot in the media at the moment – summarising broadly, these are cells which kill viruses without the need for antibodies. The possible links between T-cells and Covid19 immunity is giving the medical community some hope that there are other ways to treat or manage Covid19.
Studies are showing that people have T-cells which kill Covid, who haven’t had Covid19 (this is huge!). As I’ve written before, Covid19 is part of a huge family of viruses which includes the ‘common cold’. As a result, people may have T-cells because they have been infected by other viruses from the same family, and the T-cell somehow sees a common enemy.
There are also studies that show that people who had SARS in 2003 (also a coronavirus), lose their antibodies but keep T-cells which fight the infection. This might explain why people are not testing positive for antibodies over time, but who are not re-infected – which means that some people have, or keep, protection against Covid19.
However, I’m doing a mini-experiment and antibody testing myself weekly and my antibodies are still going strong so changes might be due to the quality or sensitivity of the test. Eitherway, Covid19 remains an enigma that our best scientists and doctors are trying to crack.