While COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease, there’s a group of people who have never caught the virus despite leading normal lives.
After two years of a pandemic, the majority of people have had first-hand experience with COVID-19. Still, there’s a group of people who, despite living their normal lives over the past couple of months and exposing themselves just like everyone else, have not gotten infected. Researchers are trying to understand why.
One study is being conducted by Australian researchers who are examining household COVID-19 cases in order to understand how the disease spreads, and how some people remain immune to it even if they should have caught it due to exposure.
“We can gain a lot of knowledge from the people who are resistant genetically and immunologically,” Dr. Vanessa Bryant told ABC Australia. “Obviously, that’s going to have implications for understanding the critical components that are necessary for COVID-19 protection. It’s also going to really pinpoint the essential therapeutic targets for [the treatment of] other people.”
She explains that everyone’s immune system is different, with the study betting that there’s a genetic component that’s influential in who gets the disease or not. While those who are vaccinated have extra protection, once this fades with the passage of time, immunity is dependent on the person’s genes. “It’s really highly variable,” she says.
When accounting for variables like exposure and previous infection, researchers think a genetic component plays a part, making some naturally more resistant to COVID-19 than others. A recent study supports these claims; out of 18 subjects that were exposed to COVID-19, all of whom had no vaccines nor previous infections, half of them never caught the virus.
No matter how careful people are, it appears some have more protection naturally, despite masks, social distancing, and more.