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India reports 60 deaths in 24 hours, crosses 21,000-mark for second day

Crossing the 21,000-mark for the second day, India on Friday logged 21,880 new Covid-19 cases, according to Union Health Ministry updated data. Additionally, the country reported 60 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry data noted. India’s active cases on Friday stood at 1,49,482, the Union Health Ministry data revealed.

Meanwhile, a new line of research has revealed that shortly after infection, patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop protective immune responses mediated by virus-specific T cells and antibodies, but there is concern that immunity does not last, which could result in severe Covid-19 infection upon re-infection.

Anna Martner and co-authors from the University of Gothenburg report two major findings in the July 12 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the first one being that several virus-specific T cell variants were detected in blood shortly after Covid-19 but then vanished after 10-12 weeks. While a subset of highly specialised T cells, which are designed to help eliminate infected cells, remained active in the blood of all previously SARS-CoV-2-infected patients. 

Interestingly, despite a long period of observation, these T cells did not disappear or wane and the findings explain why patients who have been re-infected with SARS-CoV-2 have a lower risk of severe disease and death.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg and Sahlgrenska University Hospital collected 81 blood samples from hospital staff members who had mild Covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic, as well as uninfected controls. T cell reactivity to an inner part of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus nucleocapsid) was studied, capturing T cell responses that only occur after a natural infection, according to news agency ANI report.

Over 100 peptides from the nucleocapsid portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were administered to the blood samples. The researchers then looked at which T cell mediators (cytokines) were produced by blood cells to see how long T cell reactivity lasted after infection, the report said.

Notably, it was observed that a subgroup of specialized T cells (Th1 cells) that promote the destruction of virus-infected cells were active for at least 20 months after natural Covid-19. The infected patients also harboured several other types of T cells that reacted with SARS-CoV-2. These latter T cells disappeared from blood approximately 2 months after recovery from infection.

(With inputs from ANI)

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