Does Covid change body’s response to other threats? Your gender decides

San Francisco: The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 allowed researchers to test the theory — does Covid changes the body’s response to other threats, and the answer they found was that it “depends on the individual’s gender”.

John Tsang, a professor of immunobiology and biomedical engineering at Yale University, has long believed that the immune system reverts to the previous stable baseline after viral infection.

According to a study published in the journal Nature, a team led by Tsang systematically analysed the immune responses of healthy people who had received the flu vaccine. From that data, they then compared the responses between those who had never been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and those who experienced mild cases but recovered.

The team found that the immune systems of men who had recovered from mild cases of Covid-19 responded more robustly to flu vaccines than women who had had mild cases or men and women who had never been infected, said the study.

Moreover, the study authors said that the baseline immune statuses in men previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 were altered in ways that changed the response to an exposure different from SARS-CoV-2.

“This was a total surprise. Women usually mount a stronger overall immune response to pathogens and vaccines, but are also more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases,” said Tsang.

After contracting the Covid-19 virus, men were much more likely than women to die from an overactive immune response, according to the study.The new findings suggest that even mild cases of Covid-19 may trigger stronger inflammatory responses in males than females, resulting in more pronounced functional changes to the male immune system even after recovery.

“Our findings point to the possibility that any infection or immune challenge may change the immune status to establish new set points,” said lead author Rachel Sparks, from the US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“The immune status of an individual is likely shaped by a multitude of prior exposures and perturbations,” she added.

Related Articles