Now evidence of background immunity

Drosten heads the virologist at the Charité in Berlin.

Corona viruses have been around in Germany for a long time

Corona viruses have been around in Germany for a long time – but the old ones only cause colds. However, the antibodies that result from this, at least sometimes, seem to help the new corona virus, as virologist Drosten now says.

According to Berlin-based virologist Christian Drosten, mild or asymptomatic corona courses could be associated with previous infections with cold coronaviruses. Referring to a study by a Charité colleague, the scientist in the NDR podcast confirmed that there seems to be a certain background immunity in the population. Drosten’s team was involved in the study of so-called T helper cells, which are central to the immune response.

When examining defense cells in pre-pandemic samples, the researchers had seen that 34 percent of the patients had reactive T cells that recognized certain parts of the new corona virus, so to speak. So-called reactivity can be expected when the disease is behind – however, these patients have had no contact with Sars-CoV-2, according to Drosten.

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The fact that there were still reactive T cells could be due to infections with human cold coronaviruses. Drosten spoke of the first such observation worldwide, but also warned against over-interpreting the results. Under no circumstances should one conclude that a third of the population is immune. Further explanations for mild or asymptomatic courses are also that the affected people got fewer viruses in the beginning or are in better shape overall.

When discussing the Robert Koch Institute’s (RKI) estimates of the number of reproductions after the lockdown, Drosten said – among other arguments – that he also assumed that the statistics would be distorted. He therefore asked a group to calculate a model taking into account other effects.

Drosten emphasized that test capacities in Germany had already been increased very strongly in March – while the number of infections also increased in real terms: 87,000 tests were carried out in the week from March 2, 127,000 the following week and 348,000 the following week. After that, however, they remained about the same. That the lockdown was useless or was not necessary is a wrong view.

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