Tracking the Immune response to Covid-19

Some people get off Scot free, while others have a very rough time. Why?
15 January 2021

DOCTOR-INFECTION

A doctor in a face mask surrounded by viral particles

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Doctors have described Covid-19 as the weirdest disease they’ve ever treated. Some people get off Scot free, while others have a very rough time and symptoms that persist for months after the virus has been cleared from the body. But could clues to why this happens - and to whom - be present in the way the immune system responds to the virus right at the start of the infection. Cambridge University immunologist Ken Smith thinks so. As he explains to Chris Smith, he and his colleagues have collected multiple samples from hundreds of Covid patients over the days to weeks as their individual disease syndromes progressed. And in those samples is a clear pattern that shows a very different immune response in people destined to get severe Covid compared with people who don’t. There are also hints in there of what long covid might be…

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