About 95 million people (close to 25% of the US population) have got Covid so far. That is the official number. The actual number, if one includes unreported and undiagnosed cases, will be higher though how much higher is unknown. I think all of us have either had covid or know several people who did, so ubiquitous has it become.
I have not had it so far and have put it down to luck, though it is true that I am cautious and try to avoid situations where the risk of contagion is high. I do know people who have not got it even though close family members have got it on several different occasions. Have they also just been lucky? Or is there something else that might be enabling them to avoid getting infected?
NPR’s Morning Edition had an interesting segment saying that the luck involved in not getting covid is not always due to the virus somehow missing them but because some people may have a genetic mutation that prevents them from getting sick with covid even if the virus enters their bodies.
[T]his mutation doesn’t stop an infection, but rather, it increases a person’s chances of being completely asymptomatic if they do catch COVID.
The gene is called HLA, and this particular mutation on it protects people from getting sick because it helps to clear out the virus very quickly.
That immune response gets just kind of fired up much more quickly so that you basically nuke the infection before you even start to have symptoms.
People with this mutation were armed and ready to fight SARS-CoV-2 even before vaccines came along. They were pre-armed, so to speak.
There are two other examples of genetic immunity to viral infections. One was with HIV where researchers found that some people had a gene that prevented the virus, even if it entered their bodies, from entering their cells and thus they did not get sick at all. Another case of viral immunity involved the norovirus.
Researchers are looking to study this covid immunity more and they would like people to volunteer.
So if you think you’ve been exposed many times to COVID but never tested positive – and true exposure is like you’re living with somebody who’s sick – you can send an email to the researchers running the experiment. And if you qualify, the team sends you a little kit to collect some of your saliva. You mail it back in, and they sequence your entire genome.
If you think you might be a superdodger, you can volunteer to take part in the study by clicking here.