LONDON: High levels of so-called “T cells” that respond to the C-19 virus could be sufficient to offer protection against infection, an English study said on Tuesday, adding to the evidence of the crucial role they play in immunity to C-19.
T cells, a type of white blood cell that makes up part of a healthy immune system, are thought to be essential to protect against infection from the SARS-COV-2 C-virus, and could provide longer term immunity than antibodies.
The study on nearly 3,000 people, conducted by Oxford Immunotec and Public Health England (PHE), found that no participants with a high T cell response developed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection when researchers followed up with them.
That compares to 20 confirmed infections among participants who saw low T cell responses.
“This suggests individuals with higher numbers of T-cells recognising SARS-CoV-2 may have some level of protection from C-19, although more research is required to confirm this,” said David Wyllie, Consultant Microbiologist at Public Health England.
Also read | Telemedicine and MTP
The study was a pre-print, and has not been published in a journal or peer reviewed.
The researchers suggested that the importance of T cells in the immune response might mean serological testing to detect antibodies would not paint a full picture of who was at lower risk of infection in the population.
They also said that levels of SARS-CoV-2 responsive T cells declined with age, especially in the absence of antibodies, possibly explaining why older people are more at risk from C-19.
Oxford Immunotec, which has a platform designed to measure T cell response, has been enlisted by Britain to provide testing to assess different coronavirus vaccine candidates.