Children at High Risk of COVID Re-Infection Due to “Rushed” Immune Response
Children’s ‘rushed’ immune response makes them more susceptible to Covid reinfection, a new study has revealed. The research, led by scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia, and published in the journal Clinical Immunology, showed that children have largely avoided severe COVID-19 symptoms because they have a strong initial ‘innate’ immune reaction that quickly defeats the virus.
The children, however, had an inadequate memory T cell response to COVID upon recovery, indicating that their immune system had not developed the capability of targeting SARS-CoV-2 precisely. Their strong natural immunity weakens their ability to adapt to changes.
After recovery from SARS-CoV-2, scientists discovered that children had a plentiful amount of naive T cells to fight the virus, yet little memory T cell responses, whereas adults had fewer naive T cells but better memory T cell responses.
Philip Britton, Associate Professor and clinical lead in the study, noted that as one gets more infections, the immune system becomes more “Over time, as you get infections, your immune system becomes more ‘educated’, allowing you to make a faster immune response that’s tightly matched to the viruses that have infected you before,”, leading to a quicker immune response that’s specifically tailored to the viruses that have infected the individual previously.
The immune system operates in two modes. The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense, which includes physical barriers such as skin and mucosal surfaces that act as shields to prevent viruses from entering. Cells in the body produce chemicals to communicate with other cells and help fight off viruses. The innate immune system is not able to differentiate between different types of viruses.
The adaptive immune system’s B and T cells form the second line of defence. Receptors in these cells are capable of identifying various components of a virus, which in turn triggers a swift reaction to either neutralize or restrict it.
In the new study, the researchers sequenced white blood cell samples to analyse T cells in children and adults at the time of acute infection and one month later. By studying household family contacts who were infected, researchers could control for the effects of genetic and environmental factors on the immune response.
The researchers found that children had a strong initial ‘innate’ immune reaction that quickly defeats the virus, but their memory T cells did not remember the virus, meaning they were susceptible to reinfection.
0. “Children’s ‘rushed’ immune response makes them susceptible to Covid reinfection Study” The Week, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.theweek.in/wire-updates/international/2023/01/27/lst5-virus-immune-response-children.html
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