Scientists target coronavirus immunity puzzle
By Rebecca Morell
A new effort is under way to understand how the immune system responds to coronavirus.
Scientists from 17 UK research centres are attempting to answer questions such as how long immunity lasts and why disease severity varies so much.
The new UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) says learning about immunity will help to fight the virus.
It has received £6.5m from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Prof Mala Maini, a viral immunologist from University College London, who is leading one of the UK-CIC teams, said: “Our immune response to a virus is really what dictates how we respond when we get infected, how ill we get when we get an acute infection, how long we’re protected after we’ve had the infection and how well we might respond to a vaccine.
“The immune system is underlying everything that’s key to the response to this virus.”
Since the virus first emerged, scientists have been racing to learn about how our bodies respond to infection.
Prof Maini says for mild-to-moderate cases of Covid-19 the immune response seems to be “textbook”.
She explained: “All the right components of that complex immune system seem to be working together well.”
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In this day and age, understanding bacteria and viruses and developing vaccines are national security issues. In my view sizable part of every country’s defense budget should be spent in these pursuits rather than making tanks and other weapons.
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