Why the coronavirus affects children much less severely than adults has become an enduring mystery of the pandemic. The vast majority of children do not get sick; when they do, they usually recover. The first study to compare the immune response in children with that in adults suggests a reason for children's relative good fortune. In children, a branch of the immune system that evolved to protect against unfamiliar pathogens rapidly destroys the coronavirus before it wreaks damage on their bodies, according to the research, published this week in Science Translational Medicine. "The bottom line is, yes, children do respond differently immunologically to this virus, and it seems to be protecting the kids," said Dr. Betsy Herold, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who led the study.
Some survivors of COVID-19 carry worrying signs that their immune system has turned on the body, reminiscent of potentially debilitating diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, a new study has found. At some point, the body's defense system in these patients shifted into attacking itself, rather than the virus, the study suggests. The patients are producing molecules called "autoantibodies" that target genetic material from human cells, instead of from the virus. This misguided immune response may exacerbate severe COVID-19. It may also explain why so-called "long haulers" have lingering problems months after their initial illness has resolved and the virus is gone from their bodies.
Reports of reinfection with the coronavirus evoke a nightmarish future: Repeat bouts of illness, impotent vaccines, unrelenting lockdowns -- a pandemic without an end. A case study published Monday, about a 25-year-old man in Nevada, has stoked those fears anew. The man, who was not named, became sicker the second time that he was infected with the virus, a pattern the immune system is supposed to prevent. But these cases make the news precisely because they are rare, experts said: More than 38 million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus, and as of Monday, fewer than five of those cases have been confirmed by scientists to be reinfections. "That's tiny -- it's like a microliter-sized drop in the bucket, compared to the number of cases that have happened all over the world," said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York.
One aspect of Bright's complaint is expected to get backing at Thursday's hearing from an executive of a Texas company that manufactures N95 respirator masks. Bowen offered to crank up production lines that were sitting idle, while warning that the world supply of masks was being snapped up by other countries. Bright said in his complaint that it took five weeks to move the federal bureaucracy.
If you want to know if you've ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the natural thing to do is to get a blood test. These look for antibodies--proteins that signal your body has encountered a virus, and could perhaps be protected from catching it again. But recently, a study published in Nature Medicine introduced a worrying complication. Researchers in Chongqing, China, followed 37 people who had tested positive for the virus but didn't show symptoms during their illness--in other words, who were asymptomatic--and tested their blood regularly. They found those antibodies didn't always last for long: In some cases, after two to three months, they were barely detectable.