The difficulty in developing immunity to COVID-19

Oct 19, 2020, 12:25 PM | Updated: 1:30 pm
Convalescent plasma COVID treatment, covid immunity...
Donated convalescent plasma at the Blood Bank of Delmarva Christiana Donor Center in suburban Newark. (New York Blood Center Enterprises via AP)
(New York Blood Center Enterprises via AP)

The COVID surge is here, and many are hoping that they already have some immunity to it. Is this likely? Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss.

“We don’t exactly know. But the odds are it’s not true. Let’s remember this is a novel coronavirus. It’s different than the typical coronavirus now. Coronaviruses have been around for a long time, as we’ve discussed before. In fact, they’re responsible for roughly half of the common colds. There’s some speculation that if you get immunity from having a common cold, that you will have crossover immunity to this particular coronavirus, and I think it’s probably not true,” he said.

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Part of the reason is that no matter the type of coronavirus, we’ve never seen a strong immune response to any of them.

“First of all, coronaviruses don’t actually cause very strong immune responses. That’s why we get a cold. We get better from the cold, so we know that the immune system has revved up in order to get rid of the cold. But what happens is the following year or even maybe later that year, we get yet another cold. That’s because the immune response to the coronavirus is relatively weak. It’s pretty unlikely that if you get a cold and you get immunity from a common cold that you’re going to develop immunity to this novel coronavirus as well.”

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While it’s been suggested that certain blood types are more susceptible to coronavirus than others, the data is still being developed on this.

“There is some notion that if you have type O blood, you’re at lower risk than if you have type A or type B blood. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense right now, and I have seen a number of discussions about how that might be the case, but I don’t think that that is well understood at this point. It is purely speculative for sure,” he said.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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The difficulty in developing immunity to COVID-19