Prayer #139: For T-Cells and COVID-19 Immunity
According to an article just published in the journal Nature by virology researchers in Singapore, the presence of T-lymphocytes (T-cells) in the bodies of some people may have the ability to recognize COVID-19, even though it is a new virus. Exposure to previous, more benign Coronaviruses, these researchers say, may produce "memory T-cells" in some people's blood which may help them to fight off the COVID-19 virus. Such T-cells may prove helpful in producing a viable vaccine for the virus. T-cells are an important part of the immune system that responds to a foreign invader of the body such as a virus. They are different from antibodies, which also play an important role in fighting off viruses.
After the body fights off an infection, its immune system "remembers" what it took to eradicate it, retaining a few T-cells, or "memory cells," that function as a kind of alarm to alert the immune system if the virus enters the body again and help it to produce antibodies to fight it. In the scientific investigation in Singapore, researchers found the presence of SARS-Cov-2-specific T-cells in every patient they tested who had recovered from COVID-19. SARS-Cov-2 is the causative pathogen of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Singapore researchers also found that 100% of the people they studied who had been infected by SARS-Cov-1 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003 still have, 17 years later, virus-specific memory T-cells for that virus. These patients also, they found, exhibited a cross-immunity to SARS-Cov-2, which causes COVID-19. Additionally, these researchers found that more than 50% of individuals uninfected by COVID-19 possessed SARS-Cov-2-specific T-cells. This may be, they said due to a cross-reactive immunity caused by exposure to other types of coronaviruses that cause the common cold, or other currently-unknown animal coronaviruses.
All of this looks promising, but it still is not certain that these pre-existing T-cells are sufficient for protection from COVID-19, or if they can ameliorate or eliminate entirely its pathogenic effects. Further studies are now underway to determine whether these T-cells can, in fact, provide protection against COVID-19, and/or whether it can be used therapeutically to treat COVID victims.
Pray today for this research team in Singapore as it continues its studies. Pray that God would guide them in their investigations. Pray for definitive answers to come soon regarding the use of T-cells in protecting from and combating the COVID-19 virus. Pray for God's work in the hearts of each of these researchers.
1 Chr. 16:11: "Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually. "