Glasgow’s Centre for Virus Research looks at whether ‘common cold’ can offer COVID protection

A new study, led by the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR), suggests that the common cold virus could ‘offer some level of protection’ against COVID-19 infection.

Published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases the study, entitled ‘Human rhinovirus infection blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication within the respiratory epithelium: implications for COVID-19 epidemiology’, was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The research found that human rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, triggered an ‘innate immune response’ that appeared to ‘block SARS-CoV-2 replication in cells of the respiratory tract’.

Mathematical simulations by the team also suggested ‘virus-virus interaction might have a population-wide effect’ and that, according to the University of Glasgow, ‘increasing prevalence of rhinovirus could reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases’.

Professor Pablo Murcia, from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said: “Our research shows that human rhinovirus triggers an innate immune response in human respiratory epithelial cells which blocks the replication of the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2. This means that the immune response caused by mild, common cold virus infections, could provide some level of transient protection against SARS-CoV-2, potentially blocking transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and reducing the severity of COVID-19.

“The next stage will be to study what is happening at the molecular level during these virus-virus interactions, to understand more about their impact on disease transmission. We can then use this knowledge to our advantage, hopefully developing strategies and control measures for COVID-19 infections.

“In the meantime, vaccination is our best method of protection against COVID-19.”

Find out more about the study via the University of Glasgow.