Researchers take closer look at link between common cold and lower risk for COVID-19 symptoms

BOSTON — Researchers in Boston are collaborating with others across the country to figure out why some people get so sick with Covid-19, and other have no symptoms at all.

The question is coming into focus as state leaders determine which high risk groups should be first in line, as Coronavirus vaccine distribution begins in the coming weeks.

Boston 25 News anchor Vanessa Welch talked to top researchers in Boston and San Diego who discussed an interesting factor they’re seeing in their research: your history with the common cold could play a role in the severity of your Covid-19 symptoms.

“There’s four different strains of the common cold that are that are most common. And we develop antibodies to those throughout life. And what we’re seeing here in early results are that some of those may be protective against the coronavirus,” said Newton-Wellesley pathologist Dr. Michael Misialek.

Misialek has recruited 60 Boston-area Covid-19 patients to participate in a study. He and researchers at the San Diego Biomedical Research Institute are working together, and tell Boston 25 News a ground-breaking report recently released by the Boston University School of Medicine about the connection between the common cold and Covid-19, could be a game changer.

“People who’ve recently had a common cold are, even though they still get Covid-19, they get a less severe form of it,” said Dr. Joanna Davies at the San Diego Biomedical Research Institute.

How long would that protection last? The research looked as far back as 2015, suggesting if you had a cold within the last 5 years, there could be some benefit.

“That was the most interesting thing for me is to say, ‘Hey, why does someone in my position, you have good oxygen levels while other people are on incubators?’” said Robert Josephs, a Newton attorney and father who is recovering from a case of Covid-19 this summer.

Josephs gave a sample of his blood to participate in Misialek’s study. Researchers in San Diego then analyzed the sample.

“I think it’s research like this that’ll further enhance our care of patients, and also potentially lead to better vaccine development too,” said Misialek.

“If we can identify… characterize that piece in the blood, then we can say, okay, those people who are protected who have that piece, maybe can go a little bit further down the list in terms of getting vaccines, and those people who do not have protection can be vaccinated a little earlier,” said Davies.

The next step would be to come up with a wide-spread blood test to check for common cold antibodies, to see if you have the potential for protection.

Misialek is trying to recruit more local people to his study, with a goal of 200 Covid patients in different categories, from asymptomatic, to those with mild, moderate and severe symptoms.

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