Scientists claim certain colds may leave antibodies
It’s been a big puzzle for months: Why do children get less infected than adults and, if infected, less likely to become ill? Rare in adults, but more common in children, certain colds may leave antibodies against the new coronavirus, a provocative study suggests. Scientists even claim that many children may already have antibodies to other coronaviruses.
According to researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London, about one in five of the colds that plague children are caused by viruses in this family. Antibodies to those viruses may also block SARS-COV-2, the new coronavirus causing the pandemic. A report says 43 percent of children had these antibodies while on average only 5 percent of adults did.
In March, when the pandemic had just begun, Dr. Kassiotis and his colleagues examined blood samples taken before the pandemic from over 300 adults and 48 children and adolescents. In order to develop a highly sensitive antibody test, they compared the samples with the coronavirus infected 170+ people.
Scientists were expecting that the samples taken before the pandemic might not have any antibody that attacked the new coronavirus. Instead, they found that many children, and some adults, carried one antibody in particular that can prevent coronaviruses, including the new one, from entering cells. This antibody attaches itself to the base of the spike pokes out of coronaviruses.
“While the tip of the spike is unique to the new coronavirus, the base is found in all coronaviruses,” said Dr. Kassiotis.
Adults usually get one or two colds a year, but children may get up to a dozen. As a result, many develop floods of coronavirus antibodies. Children generate more antibodies for the spike (S) than the nucleocapsid (N) protein. False-negative antibody tests may be more likely in children, as they often test for N antibodies, writes nature.com