The CDC estimates that 95 million people across the country have had COVID-19 at least once. But there are still people who say they haven’t gotten the virus yet.
Is that pure luck, maybe super immunity or is it something else?
“I don’t know how it happened,” said Pennsylvania resident Andrew Bangent.
Andrew Bangent and his wife say they have managed to avoid contracting COVID-19 at this point during the pandemic.
“It’s kind of proud for me now. I’m really proud of it,” said Pennsylvania resident Kaylee Bangent.
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These individuals are now being called “COVID-19 superdodgers,” but researchers say there’s more to it.
“Anywhere from 10 to 30% of individuals in the cohorts we study, who are completely asymptomatic,” said Jill Hollenbach, an immunogeneticist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Hollenbach leads a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco to uncover this medical phenomenon.
They investigated where genetics and the immune response intersect.
She said they talk to people who tested positive for COVID-19 but never developed any symptoms — not even a sniff or a scratchy throat.
“Here’s a person who got infected for whatever reason, but they’re clearing that virus quickly at that point that it hasn’t even caused any symptomatic reaction,” Hollenbach said.
Hollenbach said they have found a genetic mutation that prevents a person from developing COVID-19 symptoms even though they were infected with the virus.
She said these individuals may have pre-existing immunity after exposure to the seasonal flu.
“And for whatever reason, individuals with this particular type of HLA maintain an immune response that is really effective against a related coronavirus, which causes COVID-10,” Hollenbach said.
She said it is a multi-layered medical phenomenon.
“There are many reasons why we want to know about those people, because we want to know if they can still spread it? What does their immunity look like after that? If they do, does that boost their immune response?” said Hollenbach.
The research is still very new and unpublished. Ultimately, though, experts say this information could help develop more effective vaccines and even therapies.
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