LONDON: The virus behind the common cold is effective at preventing entry by coronavirus and purging it from the cells of the human body, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Glasgow in the UK.
Some viruses fight one another to become the first to infect the body, and scientists say rhinovirus, the infectious agent that can cause common colds, beats coronavirus in the race.
When a virus enters the body, it can either allow other pathogens to enter, or block further entry as a survival mechanism. Influenza almost always follows the latter strategy, scientists have said.
Since the pandemic began, scientists have asked how Sars-CoV-2, the agent behind coronavirus, will fare in a world of virus battles.
But because of the prevalence of social distancing and other health measures worldwide, and the subsequent decline in virus infections, scientists have found it difficult to observe the phenomenon.
But as part of the new study, scientists deployed a replica of the body’s airways and infected it with Sars-CoV-2 and rhinovirus, allowing them to closely observe the interaction between the two.
The team found that if rhinovirus and Sars-CoV-2 are released at the same time, the former proves successful, shutting down the competition. Even with a 24-hour headstart, Sars-CoV-2 is neutralized by rhinovirus activity.
Dr. Pablo Murcia from the Glasgow team told BBC News: “Sars-CoV-2 never takes off, it is heavily inhibited by rhinovirus. This is absolutely exciting because if you have a high prevalence of rhinovirus, it could stop new Sars-CoV-2 infections.”
Later findings showed that rhinovirus triggered immune responses inside infected cells, blocking the ability of Sars-CoV-2 to clone itself as an infection method. But the human body will still become infected once the common cold fades.
Murcia said: “Vaccination, hygiene measures and the interaction between viruses could lower the incidence of Sars-CoV-2 heavily, but the maximum effect will come from vaccination.”
Prof. Lawrence Young of Warwick Medical School said the study suggests “that this common infection could impact the burden of coronavirus … particularly over the autumn and winter months when seasonal colds are more frequent.”