New York, Nov 10: Among people who were never infected with the new coronavirus, a few adults—and many children—may have antibodies that can neutralise the virus, researchers reported.
Among 302 such adults, 16 (5.3%) had antibodies, likely generated during infections with “common cold” coronaviruses, that reacted to a specific region of the spike protein on the new virus called the S2 subunit. Among 48 children and adolescents, 21 (43.8%) had these antibodies. In test tube experiments, blood serum from both older and younger uninfected individuals with cross-reactive antibodies could neutralize the new coronavirus. That was not the case with serum from study participants who lacked these antibodies.
“Together, these findings may help explain higher COVID-19 susceptibility in older people and provide insight into whether pre-established immunity to seasonal coronaviruses offers protection against SARS-CoV-2,” the publishers of the journal said in a statement. The findings also suggest that targeting the S2 subunit on the coronavirus spike protein might be the basis for a drug or vaccine that works on multiple types of coronavirus.