What We Know About Why Some People Never Get Covid 19

Americans who haven’t had covid-19 are now officially in the minority. A study published this week from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 58% of randomly selected blood samples from adults contained antibodies indicating that they had previously been infected with the virus; among children, that rate was 75%.

What is different about that minority of people that hasn’t yet gotten infected? Stories abound of close calls, of situations where people are sure they could have (or should have) gotten sick, but somehow dodged infection. Not all the questions are answered yet, but the question of what distinguishes the never-covid cohort is a growing area of research even as the US moves “out of the full-blown” pandemic. Here are the possibilities that scientists are considering to explain why some people haven’t contracted the virus.

They behave differently

We’ve seen it play out time and time again—some people adhere more strictly to protocols known to reduce transmission of the virus, including wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. Some people avoid large public settings and may have even been doing so before the pandemic, says Nicholas Pullen, a biology professor at the University of Northern Colorado. Then again, that doesn’t tell the whole story; as Pullen himself notes: “Ironically, I happen to be one of those ‘never COVIDers’ and I teach in huge classrooms!”

They’ve trained their immune systems

The immune system, as any immunologist or allergist can tell you, is complicated. Though vaccination against covid-19 can make symptoms more mild for some people, it can prevent others from contracting the illness altogether.

Growing evidence suggests that there may be other ways that people are protected against the virus even without specific vaccines against it. Some could have previously been infected with other coronaviruses, which may allow their immune systems to remember and fight similarly shaped viruses. Another study suggests that strong defenses in the innate immune system, barriers and other processes that prevent pathogens from infecting a person’s body, may also prevent infection.

An innate immune system that’s already not functioning as well due to other medical conditions or lifestyle factors such as sleep or diet may put a person at higher risk of getting sick from a pathogen. There’s not single answer here yet, but initial studies are intriguing and may offer avenues for future treatments for covid-19 and other conditions.

They’re genetically different

In the past, studies have found interesting associations between certain genetic variants and people’s susceptibility to communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and the flu. Naturally, researchers wondered if such a variant could exist for covid-19. One June 2021 study that was not peer reviewed found an association between a genetic variant and lower risk of contracting covid-19; another large-scale study, focused on couples in which one person got sick while the other didn’t, kicked off in Oct. 2021.

“My speculation is that something will be borne out there, because it has been well observed that resistance embedded in genetic variation is selected in pandemics,” Pullen says. But most experts suspect that even if they are able to identify such a variant with some certainty, it’s likely to be rare. For now, it’s best for those who haven’t gotten covid to assume they’re as susceptible as anyone else. Whatever the reasons some people haven’t yet gotten sick, the best defense remains staying up to date with vaccinations and avoiding contact with the virus.

Source: What we know about why some people never get covid-19 — Quartz

“Being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t always result in infection, and we’ve been keen to understand why,” study author Rhia Kundu said in a statement, using the scientific name for the coronavirus. “We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against COVID-19 infection.”

The study, which examined 52 people who lived with someone who contracted the coronavirus, found that those who didn’t get infected had significantly higher levels of T cells from previous common cold coronavirus infections. T cells are part of the immune system and believed to protect the body from infection. “Our study provides the clearest evidence to date that T cells induced by common cold coronaviruses play a protective role against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” study author Ajit Lalvani said in a statement.

Researchers cautioned that the findings should not be relied upon as a protection strategy. “While this is an important discovery, it is only one form of protection, and I would stress that no one should rely on this alone,” Kundu said. “Instead, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated, including getting your booster dose.” And the findings on the subject have been inconsistent, with other studies actually suggesting that previous infection with some coronaviruses have the opposite effect.

A major question that has come from the so-called ‘never COVID’ group is whether genetics plays a role in preventing infection. In fact, the question has spurred a team of international researchers to look for people who are genetically resistant to COVID-19 in the hopes that their findings could improve therapeutics. “What we are doing essentially is that we are testing the hypothesis that some people might not be able to get infected because of their genetic and inborn makeup, meaning that they might be genetically resistant to COVID,” says Spaan, who is a member of the COVID Human Genetic Effort.

The effort has sequenced genetic data from about 700 individuals so far, but enrollment is ongoing and researchers have received thousands of inquiries, according to Spaan. The study has several criteria, including laboratory test confirmation that the person has not had previous COVID-19 infection, intense exposure to the virus without access to personal protective equipment like masks and an unvaccinated status at the time of exposure, among others. So far, the group doesn’t know what the genetic difference could be – or if it even exists at all, though they believe it does.

“We do not know how frequent it is actually occurring,” Spaan says. “Is it like a super rare individual with a very, very rare mutation? Or is that something more common?” But the hypothesis is “embedded in human history,” according to Spaan. “COVID is not quite the first pandemic that we are dealing with,” Spaan says. “Humans have been exposed to viruses and other pathogens across time from the early beginning, and these infections have left an imprint on our genetic makeup.”

Those who haven’t gotten the coronavirus are “very much at risk,” says Murphy of Northwestern University. “I think every unvaccinated person is going to get it before this is over.” Experts stressed that research to determine why some people get COVID-19 while others don’t is still very much underway, and no one should rely on any of the hypotheses for protection. Instead, those who haven’t gotten the coronavirus should continue mitigation measures that have been proven to work, like vaccination and mask-wearing.

“You don’t ever want to have COVID,” Murphy says. “You just don’t know which people are going to get really sick from this and die or who’s going to get long COVID, which is hard to diagnose and difficult to treat and very real.” But with coronavirus cases on the rise and mitigation measures like mask mandates dropping left and right, it’s not an easy task.

COVID19: Face masks could return as cases spike Financial Mirror

06:48 Tue, 21 Jun
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Moderna COVID Vaccine May Pose Higher Heart Inflammation Risk

Source: Moderna COVID vaccine may pose higher heart inflammation risk – U.S. CDC

More contents:

Planning on Going Back To The Office, Hitting The Gym or Attending a Wedding? A Guide To Staying COVID Safe

Dr. Anthony Fauci declared last month that the U.S. is transitioning “out of the pandemic phase,” following mask mandates lifting across the country. However, that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is behind us. Surges continue in different parts of the U.S., while an estimated 300 people die every day because of the virus.

So it’s understandable that some people — at least the ones who have been trying to protect themselves and others from the highly-contagious virus for the past two years — are feeling a bit confused about what exactly they should be doing at this stage of the pandemic to stay healthy and safe.

Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, a critical care medicine specialist and pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Yahoo Life, “A lot of people have been given a sense that this is probably over for most of us. The answer isn’t going to be the same for every two people.”

Khabbaza says that’s because every person has to assess their own individual risk factors when it comes to getting COVID. Dr. Prathit Kulkarni, an assistant professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, agrees, telling Yahoo Life: “Safety precautions at this stage in the pandemic are related to one’s personal risk of having a bad outcome from COVID-19, vaccination status and one’s personal risk tolerance. All situations are slightly unique and require an individual and situational risk assessment.”

With the exception of people who are immunocompromised or elderly, though, “if you’re fully vaccinated and up-to-date on boosters, your personal odds of getting severe illness are very low, even if you come across the virus,” says Khabbaza. “Whereas for people who have not been vaccinated they may not factor in that they are at high risk for severe illness. But that’s something some people have chosen.”

How can you protect yourself in general?

In a nutshell, getting vaccinated and boosted if eligible is still the right call — especially if you’re more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID — and offers “the best protection,” says Kulkarni.

He adds: “Folks who are at higher risk for a worse outcome from COVID-19 may wish to enhance their protection from contracting COVID-19. The best way to do this is with a well-fitting mask. N95 respirator-type masks afford the greatest individual protection.”

Kulkarni says that “the folks who are potentially at the highest risk at this point in the pandemic include unvaccinated individuals, especially older persons, folks who are at higher risk but have not yet been boosted such as older persons or people living in nursing homes and people with significant immunocompromising conditions.”

Both Kulkarni and Khabbaza say it’s also important to know what the COVID rates are in your area or where you’re traveling to. “Following CDC’s tracker of COVID activity around the country can also be helpful to get a gauge for how things are going in a particular geographic area,” says Kulkarni.

Planning on going back to the office, hitting the gym or attending a wedding? Keep these precautions in mind to stay COVID safe and healthy.

Flying on a plane

With multiple U.S. domestic airlines including Delta, American and United dropping mask requirements on flights, you may be wondering how to stay safe while traveling on packed planes. The CDC states that it continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time. But depending on your own personal risk factors and risk tolerance, while at the airport, “if you’re able to space apart from people and avoid close sustained contact, then a mask is not going to be needed,” says Khabbaza. But when you’re in prolonged close proximity to others, it’s a good idea to mask up.

For example, Khabbaza shares that he doesn’t wear a mask while walking around the airport because he’s in motion and able to distance himself from others. However, he puts on a mask while in the security line “because of close contact.” He then takes it off walking to the gate and while sitting at the gate “because I’m away from other people.” Once on the plane, Khabbaza puts his mask back on. “Ventilation in airplanes seems to be good, but to me, it’s easy enough to minimize my risk in a setting with others by wearing a mask,” he says. “That’s where you’ll get more value for masking.”

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told CNN that wearing a mask in the highest-risk settings while traveling is key. “That includes during boarding and deplaning when the ventilation systems on airplanes are often not running,” she says. “Don’t drink or eat at those times.”

Although airlines often hand out sanitizing wipes as you board, Khabbaza explains that, from a COVID transmission standpoint, “I don’t think that would have much of a barrier.” That’s because “contact with surfaces is not as big of a mode of transmission as initially thought, if at all,” he says. That said, it doesn’t hurt to wipe down the seat and tray table for hygiene’s sake.

Kulkarni agrees, saying, “In general, wiping down surfaces via routine cleaning can be generally helpful for avoidance of transmission of several different infectious organisms.”

Eating at a restaurant

In general, it’s safer to dine outdoors when feasible. “Similar to the initial stages of the pandemic, outdoor transmission of COVID is very limited compared to indoor transmission,” points out Kulkarni.

Khabbaza says to keep in mind that “if you are choosing to dine in a restaurant, most of your risk is when you’re sitting down and eating, which is much of the time.” Putting on a mask while walking for “a few seconds to your seat” or wearing one on the way to the restroom may not change the fact that there’s a “slightly higher risk of indoor dining right now,” he says. “Theoretically, it could lower it a little bit, but you’re drinking, eating, talking and laughing when seated and not moving around — that’s where the risks are.”

Khabbaza says the safest way to dine indoors is by choosing restaurants with big open windows to further lower the risk of transmission or going to restaurants during off-hours “when they’re not full.”

Working in an office

If you’re alone in your own office or in a private cubicle, a mask likely isn’t needed. “It will be hard to transmit if far away from others and there’s a barrier with cubicles,” Khabbaza says.

But he stresses that it’s important to know your company’s policy on vaccinations and whether employees need to show proof of vaccination to better assess the risk. “If vaccination is mandatory that certainly makes things a lot safer,” Khabbaza says. “But if you’re in close sustained contact all day at work, masking is probably not a bad idea, especially in times of high cases.”

Wearing a mask can also help put co-workers and employers who are more vulnerable at ease. “If you’re working with people you know are immunocompromised or elderly, it’s OK to try to protect them with masking,” he says.

Along with distancing and good ventilation, Wen told CNN that “testing that’s done at least once a week can help catch early, asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and serve as an additional layer of protection.”

Visiting a public pool

The good news is that the virus doesn’t transmit through water, per the World Health Organization. There’s also the protective benefit of being outdoors while at a public pool. However, Khabbaza points out that “close sustained contact with someone in a pool might have some of that risk.”

If the pool isn’t crowded, it’s easy to avoid people and space apart. “But if it’s a crowded pool party, there’s a risk and masks aren’t feasible,” he says.

When going indoors, such as to the locker room, it’s a good idea to put on a mask if there are several people close by. The CDC recommends bringing extra masks and storing them in a plastic bag in case one gets wet.

Going to the supermarket

In general, supermarkets are “lower risk from a COVID standpoint because you’re not really in close sustained contact — a lot of it is walking by people,” says Khabbaza, “and you can space out in a line at the cashier.”

But if you’re concerned or immunocompromised, he says, “just wear the mask, and then you have a barrier over your nose and mouth.”

Working out at the gym

The size, crowd and ventilation matter when it comes to gyms. Small boutique gyms that rely on fans to circulate the air are going to be “a little [riskier] if crowded because there’s not much ventilation,” says Khabbaza. “In the really big gyms, spacing can be done” so you can distance yourself from others. Large gyms are also more likely to have an HVAC system for better air filtration.

“If you can space out, it’s going to be relatively safer compared to smaller gyms where spacing isn’t much of an option,” says Khabbaza.

While wiping down gym equipment isn’t essential from a COVID transmission standpoint — “it would be very hard to get it, especially if you’re not touching your face,” Khabbaza says — it’s a standard recommendation to do so before and after using gym equipment in general.

Attending an indoor party or wedding

If you’re at a high risk of severe illness, “it might be reasonable to avoid weddings at times of [COVID] surges,” says Khabbaza, who recommends wearing a well-fitting N95 mask at group events, particularly if you’re more vulnerable. “If you’re anxious about the possibility of getting it, weddings may not be best for you during times of surges.”

That said, most weddings take place at “big venues where you can space out a bit,” he says. “If you’re spaced out and in a mask, you should be very good about minimizing your risk.” But Khabbaza says that the best protection is being up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, which makes the odds of severe illness “extremely low, assuming you have a normal immune system,” he says.

You can also go one step further to assess the risk of attending a larger social gathering: Dr. Preeti Malani, chief health officer at the Division of Infectious Diseases and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Michigan, told NPR that before a big event, “ask if people must be vaccinated and/or tested to attend and if they have to show proof or are on the honor system.”

Staying at a hotel

While you don’t need to wear a mask when you’re in your own hotel room, you might want to put one on while riding the elevator if it’s crowded or if you’re staying at a big hotel with longer elevator rides that stop at multiple floors. “A short elevator ride will be on the lower end [of the risk spectrum], but not impossible,” says Khabbaza. “But transmissibility becomes higher when in close contact.”

A 2021 study found that in elevators without proper ventilation, an infected person coughing can transmit viral particles “all across the elevator enclosure.”

Another option to stay safe: If you don’t want to mask, wait for the next empty — or mostly empty — elevator if it’s feasible, or take the stairs, suggests Khabbaza.

By:

Source: Planning on going back to the office, hitting the gym or attending a wedding? A guide to staying COVID safe now.

Further reading:

Monkeypox: Doctors warn of ‘massive impact’ on sexual health services as staff self-isolate (Yahoo) | https://uk.news.yahoo.com/monkeypox-d…

Monkeypox outbreak linked to superspreader event at adult sauna (Yahoo) | https://news.yahoo.com/monkeypox-outb…

MISCExplainer: What to Know About Monkeypox (Visual Capitalist) | https://www.visualcapitalist.com/expl…

Human monkeypox: an emerging zoonosis (Lancet) | https://www.thelancet.com/journals/la…

First monkeypox genome from latest outbreak shows links to 2018 strain (NewScientist) | https://www.newscientist.com/article/…

Monkeypox virus evades antiviral CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses by suppressing cognate T cell activation (PNAS) | https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas…

FDA approves first live, non-replicating vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox (FDA) | https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press… Nov 3, 2021

ACIP Meeting – Orthopoxviruses Vaccines (CDC) | https://youtu.be/4SCUOppgtxE Israel reports first case of monkeypox, suspects others (ABC) | https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireSto…

New York officials investigate case of suspected monkeypox (Miami Herald) | https://www.miamiherald.com/latest-ne…

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Future COVID Variants Will Likely Reinfect Us Multiple Times a Year, Experts Say

For more than a year now, the original COVID-19 vaccines have held up remarkably well — even miraculously so — against a Greek alphabet of new variants: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta.

But now experts say something is changing. Since the start of 2022, the initial version of Omicron, known as BA.1, has been spinning off new sublineages — BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, BA.5 — at an alarming pace.

Earlier variants did this too. But it never really mattered, because their offshoots “had no functional consequence,” according to Eric Topol, founder of Scripps Research Translational Institute. “They did not increase transmissibility or pathogenicity.”

Today’s rapidly proliferating Omicron mutants are different, however. They all have one worrisome trait in common: They’re getting better and better at sidestepping immunity and sickening people who were previously shielded by vaccination or prior infection.

The virus, in other words, is now evolving faster — and in a more consequential way — than ever before. Given the increasing speed of immune evasion, and what this pattern portends for the future, experts warn that the time has come to rethink our reliance on the vaccine status quo and double down on next-generation vaccines that can actually stop infection.

“As difficult [as] it is to mentally confront, we must plan on something worse than Omicron in the months ahead,” Topol wrote on May 15. “We absolutely need an aggressive stance to get ahead of the virus — for the first time since the pandemic began — instead of surrendering.”

The brewing storm of BA sublineages isn’t all bad news. COVID cases have been rising nationwide since the beginning of April, nearly quadrupling over the last six weeks to more than 90,000 per day on average. Yet both COVID deaths (about 300 per day) and ICU patients (about 2,000 total) are still at or approaching record lows — even though other countries with bigger gaps in previous exposure or vaccination have been hit hard, and even though new research shows that Omicron and its spinoffs are not, in fact, intrinsically less severe or deadly than prior variants, contrary to early assumptions.

By:

Source: Future COVID variants will likely reinfect us multiple times a year, experts say — unless we invest in new vaccines

Critics by:

The new variants have not altered the fundamental usefulness of the Covid vaccines. Most people who have received three or even just two doses will not become sick enough to need medical care if they test positive for the coronavirus. And a booster dose, like a previous bout with the virus, does seem to decrease the chance of reinfection — but not by much.

At the pandemic’s outset, many experts based their expectations of the coronavirus on influenza, the viral foe most familiar to them. They predicted that, as with the flu, there might be one big outbreak each year, most likely in the fall. The way to minimize its spread would be to vaccinate people before its arrival.

Instead, the coronavirus is behaving more like four of its closely related cousins, which circulate and cause colds year round. While studying common-cold coronaviruses, “we saw people with multiple infections within the space of a year,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York.

If reinfection turns out to be the norm, the coronavirus is “not going to simply be this wintertime once-a-year thing,” he said, “and it’s not going to be a mild nuisance in terms of the amount of morbidity and mortality it causes.”

Reinfections with earlier variants, including Delta, did occur but were relatively infrequent. But in September, the pace of reinfections in South Africa seemed to pick up and was markedly high by November, when the Omicron variant was identified, Dr. Pulliam said.

Reinfections in South Africa, as in the United States, may seem even more noticeable because so many have been immunized or infected at least once by now.

More contents:

Unvaccinated People Increase Risk Of Covid Infection Among Vaccinated, Study Finds

Unvaccinated people threaten the safety of vaccinated people even with high levels of immunization against Covid-19, according to a new study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), countering a popular narrative that vaccination is purely is a matter of individual choice and supporting policies requiring the shots.

Unvaccinated people pose a “disproportionate” risk of Covid-19 infection to vaccinated people, according to the peer reviewed study from University of Toronto researchers, which examined the interactions between unvaccinated and vaccinated groups using a computer model.

The model simulated the spread of Covid-19 under a variety of different parameters and mixing between unvaccinated and vaccinated people, including vaccine effectiveness and uptake, baseline levels of immunity among the unvaccinated and the rate of recovery from infection.

The model revealed a “markedly higher” risk of infection in all scenarios where unvaccinated and vaccinated people mixed, even the ones where immunization rates were high.

The findings counter the common argument that the decision to get vaccinated is a personal one, the researchers said, as the unvaccinated are ”likely to affect the health and safety of vaccinated people in a manner disproportionate to the fraction of unvaccinated people in the population.”

While the risks of forgoing vaccination are greatest for the unvaccinated—they are more likely to be infected, hospitalized and die from Covid-19 than vaccinated people—the findings dent a commonly-used argument that it is the refuser alone who bears the consequences of this decision.

Given the disproportionate levels of risk the unvaccinated pose to the vaccinated, vaccination cannot be framed as an entirely “self-regarding” choice, explained study author Dr. David Fisman, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto. In light of this, Fisman said policies like vaccine mandates or vaccine passports that restrict access to non-essential services such as restaurant dining or public transport seem “reasonable.”

Such policies are also in line with other regulations designed to protect public health, he said, pointing to compulsory treatment for tuberculosis and restrictions on driving while intoxicated. There is a strong history of law and policy supporting vaccine mandates for the sake of public health in the U.S. as well, with a Supreme Court precedent favoring mandatory smallpox vaccination dating back over a 100 years.

“Vaccinated individuals have a right not to have their efforts to protect themselves undermined,” Fisman said, stressing that the findings are “very supportive” of vaccine mandates for flights and trains.

The paper does not capture another series of health risks the unvaccinated impose upon the vaccinated, Fisman said. As the unvaccinated are more likely to end up in hospital with Covid-19, Fisman said they take up more resources and deprive the “vaccinated of access to care for other conditions” such as cancer or heart disease.

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and

Source: Unvaccinated People Increase Risk Of Covid Infection Among Vaccinated, Study Finds

.

Critics:

By: Morgan Lowrie 

While remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19 is often framed as a personal choice, those who spurn the vaccines raise the risk of infection for those around them, a new study suggests.

The research published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that vaccinated people who mix with those who are not vaccinated have a significantly greater chance of being infected than those who stick with people who have received the shot.

In contrast, unvaccinated people’s risk of contracting COVID-19 drops when they spend time with people who are vaccinated, because they serve as a buffer to transmission, according to the mathematical model used in the study.

Co-author David Fisman, of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana school of public health, said the message of the study is that the choice to get vaccinated can’t be thought of as merely personal.

“You may like to drive your car 200 kilometres an hour and think that’s fun, but we don’t allow you to do that on a highway partly because you can kill and injure yourself, but also because you’re creating risk for those around you,” he said in a recent interview.

More contents:

By The Numbers: Who’s Refusing Covid Vaccinations—And Why

Unvaccinated More Likely To Get Long Covid—And Suffer Symptoms For Longer—Studies Find

Tracking every case of COVID-19 in Canada

Coronavirus vaccination tracker: How many people in Canada have received shots?

Experts advise Canadians to consider personal risk before getting 4th COVID vaccine dose

Canada’s updated border restrictions: What you need to know

Less than a third of hospitalized COVID patients feel fully recovered a year later, U.K. study finds

Being with unvaccinated people increases COVID-19 risk for those who are vaccinated: modelling study

Another COVID-19 wave ‘almost baked in’ for the fall: top Ont. science adviser

COVID-19 shots still work, but researchers hunt new improvements

How well is our immunity holding up against COVID-19?

Coronavirus stats worldwide: Compare Canada and other key nations

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