How To Prevent Viral Infections – In September 2009, the H1N1 swine flu reached Portugal, Spain and the UK, so France was braced for cases.
Indeed, the number of people in France with respiratory symptoms soon increased. But they don’t seem to have H1N1. France only registered sporadic positive tests for the new swine flu for most of September and the first half of October. When H1N1 finally showed up in France, it was in the fall much later than expected. And that got scientists thinking: Why?
How To Prevent Viral Infections
A flurry of articles since then have narrowed down a compelling hypothesis: The flu pandemic was deflected by the common cold.
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For many, COVID-19 has revealed in terrifying detail the strange nature of the virus. Beneath the surface of our daily lives is a constantly changing ecosystem of pathogens that often behave in unexpected ways. In France in 2009, infections caused by the nasal virus, which often causes colds, spiked when H1N1 was expected to emerge, and as they subsided, a pandemic flu broke out. Since then, studies have found that cases of a person contracting two viruses at the same time are rarer than would be expected based on chance alone. That suggests that having one will protect you from the other, at least for a while – somehow.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of many other respiratory infections have plummeted. This may be the result of social distancing protocols, but may also be related to viral interference, where viruses affect each other. This insight could give a head start in fighting future pandemics. With a deeper understanding of our virus ecosystem, what if we could one day use viruses against each other?
In recent years, scientists have developed a much more complex picture of what bacteria do to us and to us. They explored how our health is shaped by the combination of beneficial and dangerous bacteria in our microbiome. Now the virus may well be worth checking again.
The idea that viruses can interfere with each other is old – as old as vaccination. Edward Jenner, the English physician who helped develop the smallpox vaccination in the 18th century, saw it. Vaccination involves giving a person a milder cowpox virus infection. But if the patient has herpes, there is no effect. It was as if having two active infections at the same time changed the way the immune system responded.
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Over the next two centuries, scientists reported more and more situations where it was clear that infections were dormant in a vacuum. A 1950 review paper even called it the “well known fact” that having one virus can inhibit the growth of another.
However, this topic is not often discussed these days. Stacey Schultz-Cherry, infectious disease researcher at St. Jude of Memphis, Tenn, says it’s difficult to study virus interventions to protect people and is often overlooked. That’s because, she explains, situations in which concurrent infection causes a worse prognosis are better known. For example, the flu is famous for paving the way for bacterial pneumonia. Small studies from the start of the pandemic show that getting both the flu and COVID-19 is worse than having just one of them.
Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says worst-case scenarios can hide something profound about what usually happens when our immune systems encounter it. virus every day. “Virus infections can actually protect people from other viral infections – or bacterial infections – by stimulating immune responses, by keeping the innate immune system in place,” he said. Ours is always at the ready, with these constant nudges and nudges. “They are like training for us,” he suggests.
The adaptive immune defense system targets specific pathogens and these are the things that protect us after we are vaccinated. But innate immunity is more multi-purpose. After studying the H1N1 flu, Ellen Foxman, an immunologist at the Yale School of Medicine, and colleagues published a paper in October showing that once the innate immune system is activated by a pathogen, the body can repel another invader.
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To model what might have happened during a swine flu pandemic, the researchers cultured human respiratory tissue in the lab and infected it with a nasal virus. Then, three days later, they gave it an H1N1 flu shot. They were curious to see that the flu virus had just disappeared, and they determined that the rhov virus had activated certain genes that make innate immune proteins. Suspecting that molecular messengers known as interferons had turned those switches on, they treated the tissues with a drug that blocks the interferons and ran the experiment again. “Surprisingly, the flu is still doing well,” said Foxman. Interferon is made to fight the nasal virus that has defeated the flu.
Some viruses trigger an interferon response, and it is possible that any of them can make the body strongly resistant to a new infection for a period of time. For instance, the team didn’t test whether getting the flu first would prevent the nasal virus, but it’s plausible, Foxman said. That may explain why flu and cold have alternating peaks every year. There are many reasons why one virus might take center stage over others, including human behavior, school schedules and climate. “But you really wonder if viral interference is the missing part of that equation,” says Foxman.
During the current pandemic, similar questions are at play. While social distancing and mask wearing are reducing the incidence of seasonal flu, perhaps the incidence of COVID-19 is reducing it further. Or, Schultz-Cherry said, maybe the flu slowed COVID-19. They are questions that can only be answered with further study, but they are well worth asking.
Because the new study demonstrates how one infection can stave off another, it hints at the possibility of unusual new therapies somewhere in the future. One could imagine the virus being designed to cause a response just enough to protect us against something more dangerous, like next week — a benign infection to contain the threat. instant. On a more practical level, says Schultz-Cherry, a protective interferon response could one day be induced in the right places in the body by something like nasal dew. For those at high risk, the intervention can provide a shield.
Covid 19, Flu, And Colds
On a larger scale, these immune responses are the result of a collaborative process between humans and viruses. Is it possible that after our long dance with these self-replicating genetic codes, there are viruses that do us more good than harm? Mina suspects that medical research focusing on the negative outcomes of contracting the virus can blind us to that fact.
He continued: “We miss these beautiful interactions that perhaps, evolutionarily, are entirely right for us as humans and not against us. “The microbiome is a great example. . . . We see bacteria everywhere and think, maybe they’re good. Turns out they were essential.”
Veronique Greenwood is a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and National Geographic, among other publications. Population-based study of changes in the determinants of food choices of high school students: Polish adolescents’ COVID-19 experience (Place-19) Learning
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Received: July 30, 2020 / Modified: August 19, 2020 / Accepted: August 24, 2020 / Published: August 28, 2020
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing a heavy burden of deaths and lockdowns around the globe. A compromised immune system is a known risk factor for all viral flu infections. Supplements optimize the immune system’s ability to prevent and control viral infections, while physical activity increases that protective benefit. Exercise strengthens innate and
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