As US leaders work to control the spread of coronavirus, researchers across the globe are working to answer the mysteries that remain around infections.
One of those mysteries: why the experience can be so different from person to person. One expert says the answer may involve looking at previous vaccines individuals have had.
“When we looked in the setting of Covid disease, we found that people who had prior vaccinations with a variety of vaccines — for pneumococcus, influenza, hepatitis and others — appeared to have a lower risk of getting Covid disease,” Dr. Andrew Badley, an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night.
It’s what immunologists call immune training: how your immune system creates an effective response to fight off infections, Badley says.
“A good analogy is to think of your immune system as being a muscle,” he said. “The more you exercise that muscle, the stronger it will be when you need it.”
There’s been no definitive evidence of any other vaccines boosting immunity against Covid-19. But some researchers have suggested it’s possible.
In June, a team of researchers in the US proposed giving a booster dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to people to see if it helps prevent the most severe effects of coronavirus infections. And last month, researchers found that countries where many people have been given the tuberculosis vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) had less mortality from coronavirus, a finding that fits with other research suggesting the vaccine can boost people’s immunity in general.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at University of California, San Francisco found masks make a difference.
“What the mask does is really reduce the amount of virus that you get in, if you do get infected,” she said. “And by reducing that … you have a lower dose, you’re able to manage it, you’re able to have a calm response and you have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.”
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