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New research suggests herd immunity for coronavirus just might be possible


Memory T cells could lead fight against infections

Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

Groundbreaking new evidence suggests COVID-19 patients develop lasting, long-term immunity after infection, according to new study released on Friday.

What are the details?

Business Insider reported that some scientists believe the benefits of long-term immunity against the coronavirus will be beneficial to reducing the contagion of the coronavirus.

Initial research indicated that antibodies in COVID-19 patients could fade within months of infection — but new research from medical journal Cell says white blood cells — which help fight infections — have a "muscle memory" and could return to fight off second infections.

In particular, memory T cells — effector cells that help identify and eradicate infectious cells and relay information to B cells about how to fight the pathogen upon each subsequent infection — are instrumental in maintaining a balanced and healthy immune system and remain in the system for years after initial infection.

The study's authors explained, "Memory T cells will likely prove critical for long-term immune protection against COVID-19. Such cells, according to the study, may also "prevent recurrent episodes of COVID-19."

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci believes this is good news.

During a Thursday interview, the infectious diseases expert said, "There's a lot of hot stuff going on right now [in memory T cell research]. … People who don't seem to have high titers of antibodies, but who are infected or have been infected, have good T-cell responses."

Business Insider reported that people, who have never even been exposed to COVID-19, could have protective T-cells in their systems, according to a recent Nature study.

Recent reports also suggest that herd immunity may be achieved when as little as 50% of the world's population is immune to COVID-19 — which is down 20% from initial estimates of 70%.

What else?

This week, the embattled World Health Organization denied that the world is anywhere close to achieving herd immunity.

"Right now, as a planet, as a global population, we are nowhere close to the levels of immunity required to stop this disease from transmitting," said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.

"We need to focus on what we can acutely do now to suppress transmission and not live in hope of herd immunity being our salvation," he added.

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