- Researchers believe that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, administered since 1979, may reduce the severity of COVID-19 in some patients.
- Researchers have also found a link between exposure to cigarette smoke and susceptibility to coronavirus infection.
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People whose immune systems respond strongly to the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may be less likely to become seriously ill if they are infected with the new coronavirus, new data show.
The MMR II vaccine, manufactured by Merck and licensed in 1979, works by triggering the immune system to produce antibodies. Researchers reported on Friday in mBio that among 50 patients with COVID-1
People with the highest titer of mumps antibodies had asymptomatic COVID-19. More research is needed to prove that the vaccine prevents severe COVID-19. Yet the new findings “may explain why children have a much lower incidence of COVID-19 than adults, as well as a much lower mortality rate,” said co-author Jeffrey Gold, president of the World Organization, in Watkinsville. Georgia, in a statement.
“Most children get their first MMR vaccination between the ages of 12 and 15 months and their second between the ages of 4 and 6 years.”
However, exposure to cigarette smoke makes airway cells more vulnerable to infection with the new coronavirus, UCLA researchers have found.
They received airway-covering cells from five individuals without COVID-19 and exposed some of the cells to cigarette smoke in tubes. They then exposed all the cells to the coronavirus. Compared to cells that are not exposed to smoke, cells that are exposed to smoke are two or even three times more likely to become infected with the virus, researchers said Tuesday at Cell Stem Cell.
Analysis of individual airway cells showed that cigarette smoke reduced the immune response to the virus. “If you think of the airways as the high walls that protect the castle, smoking cigarettes is like making holes in those walls,” co-author Brigitte Gomperts told Reuters.
“Smoking reduces the natural defenses and this allows the virus to enter and invade the cells.”
(Report by Nancy Lapid, Kate Keland and Alistair Smoot; Edited by Tiffany Wu)