Day 30 – Tuesday 14th April
Here’s a question that’s been bugging me recently: what on earth is going on in the bodies of asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19? The scientific community seem to agree that the infection rate of this disease means there must be a significant number of people who have the virus but are totally unaware of the fact because they have no symptoms. This fact is backed up in areas where they have managed to test a whole group of people. A good percentage of those who tested positive never developed any signs of illness.
How do they manage that? How do you fight off an unknown pathogen without seemingly initiating your body’s main defence: a fever. Is it that they were only exposed to such a small amount of the virus that it was unable to get a hold. It just lurked in the nasal passage but couldn’t go further. In which case maybe they don’t have the antibodies and are still vulnerable.
Perhaps they did have a fever and were unaware of it. This is possible if your temperature is only slightly elevated, though I imagine a raging fever of 39c to 40c would be hard to ignore. I say this because when I had my minor operation earlier this year they took all my vital signs before I went to the operating room. The nurse asked me whether I had a cold because my body temperature was high. That was news to me because I felt absolutely fine, and certainly didn’t feel hot. Turns out she was correct and 24 hours later I came down with a cold that my body fought off easily in a couple of days. I was well impressed the nurse already knew. I am obviously not as in touch with my body as I thought.
Maybe these people already have antibodies that are similar to those needed for Covid-19. We know that a number of common colds are caused by Corona viruses. Could the antibodies for these be tweaked by the immune system? The common cold is a master of changing identities, which is why we keep catching them as you continually have to come up with new antibodies, particularly as for some viruses the antibodies do not remain in you system forever. Perhaps that is the key then, that these people have recently had a less severe corona virus in the form of a cold and these defences remain in their system ready to be adapted to this new form. Alternatively is it possible some people have super efficient immune systems that are able to whip up new antibodies for novel viruses in the blink of an eye.
Maybe the answer lies in the route taken by this particular Coronavirus to enter our cells, which is apparently via the ACE2 protein. Now I have no idea what role the ACE2 protein plays in our cells, but maybe some of us have less of it than others, or it is harder to find in the cellular structure. Both of these would make it hard for the virus to latch onto your cells and gain entry, slowing the virus down and giving your immune system more time to deal with it.
Off course all of this is speculation on my part. I have no medical qualifications and have probably wondered off into the realm of complete fantasy. There is no answer at the moment as to why in a group of seemingly equally healthy adults some have no symptoms or mild symptoms and can carry on their normal lives; some are laid up in bed for 3-4 weeks at home but fight it off without medical intervention; and some end up in hospital on respirators and life support, a few of which do not make it and die.
I believe the medical world has started looking into this conundrum. They are researching for possible genetic predisposition, as Covid-19 is effecting certain ethnic groups more than others. They’re also looking at exposure rate and the ACE2 connection. Probably a whole host of other things for all I know. However their focus is on the healthy people have the extreme reaction and require hospital treatment. After all their job is to save lives, so people who are able to fight this virus off without help are of less interest to them.
My focus is the opposite. The latter group is of extreme interest to me. The ability to fight off a totally new virus with no illness or long term consequences seems eminently desirable. Whatever the requirements are to join this fortunate club sign me up please.