A new research has highlighted that the common cold virus may be able to block the flu virus from infecting airways. Researchers suggest the presence of rhinovirus — the most common viral infectious agent in humans and the predominant cause of common cold — may be enough to kickstart the body’s antiviral defences, thereby providing protection against the flu, The Independent reports.
According to the outlet, a Yale University team led by Dr Ellen Foxman studied three years of clinical data of more than 13,000 patients at the Yale New Haven Hospital. These patients had symptoms of respiratory infection.
It was found in the research that during months when both the viruses were typically active, if the common cold virus was present in the body, the flu virus was not. “When we looked at the data, it became clear that very few people had both viruses at the same time,” Dr Foxman, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine and immunobiology, and senior author of the study was quoted as saying.
But, she also added that it is still to be known if the annual seasonal spread of the common cold virus will have a similar impact on those exposed to the coronavirus. “It is impossible to predict how two viruses will interact without doing the research.”
For this particular study, researchers created a ‘human airway tissue’ from the stem cells that give rise to the epithelial cells, which line the airways of the lung and are always targeted by respiratory viruses, the outlet reports. It was then found that after the tissue had been exposed to the rhinovirus, the influenza virus was not able to infect it.
The study was published in The Lancet Microbe journal.