More than two years into the pandemic, many in Canada and around the world have remained free of — or at least not tested positive for — COVID-19.
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Experts say due diligence with public health measures, the power of vaccination and a little luck have kept many COVID-19 free.
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“To avoid getting COVID, you have to be careful, meticulously careful, and also happy,” said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.
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Genetic factors, which have not yet been identified, could also play a role, since some people are simply immune to COVID-19, Furness said.
This may also explain why people react differently to the virus and have different symptoms.
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“There are some diseases that are clearly linked to one gene, but in many cases it’s much more complicated and there can be multiple pathways,” Furness said.
There are seven known coronaviruses that can infect humans, including the common cold.
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Previous exposure to other forms of coronavirus may stop someone from contracting COVID-19, said Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious disease expert at the University of British Columbia.
“These people develop antibodies. So, theoretically, if they are exposed to the virus, they can get rid of it very easily because of what’s called cross-reaction,” Bach explained.
A study published in Nature Communications in January suggested that higher levels of pre-existing T cells, made by the body when infected with other coronaviruses, may protect someone from contracting COVID-19.
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Another study published in the journal in November 2021 nature also showed that UK healthcare workers who have repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19 were able to fight off the virus due to the presence of T cells from exposure to previous seasonal coronaviruses.
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Because much of the research on COVID-19 has focused on those infected and how to treat them, experts say it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why certain people have so far managed to avoid the virus.
Getting to the bottom of this question could be a “real game changer” in the fight against the pandemic, Furness said.
“If we could figure out on what basis some people are immune, we could potentially develop effective drugs. We may also be able to easily identify who is at high risk.”
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8730756/why-many-people-did-not-get-covid/ COVID-19 free: how did so many people escape the virus? Here’s what we know – nationally