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Based on blood tests, the number of Americans who have had COVID was underestimated by the CDC. However, those that have not shown any signs of the illness after exposure may have the key in their immune system.
Forty-nine-year-old Bevin Strickland is a nurse anesthetist from High Point, North Carolina. Not only was she extensively exposed to the virus, she often did not wear a mask so that she could better ease the anxiety of confused patients. Many of her patients were elderly nursing home residents.
Strickland was required to be tested for COVID on a weekly basis and did not contract the virus. Additionally, she took an antibody test that proved she did not ever have the infection. Now, she is part of a study that is looking for the commonality among these people who have not contracted COVID.
“What we are looking for is potentially very rare genetic variants with a very big impact on the individual,” said András Spaan, a clinical microbiologist and fellow at the Rockefeller University in New York. Spaan is spearheading a search for genetic material responsible for coronavirus resistance. The study has already enrolled 700 people out of the 5.000 COVID-free people who have come forward to be tested for being able to remain virus-free throughout the pandemic.
Strickland and one of her twin sons have been exposed to the virus but neither one of them has been sick. It is possible. Researchers are seeking to determine why these people have remained COVID-free. Researchers are studying genes and other biological traits so they can learn how the virus develops, stated Jennifer Nuzzo, a professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health.
This study could potentially crack the code that leads to better treatment and improved advice for public health. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has been helping to create models showing how the virus has spread. He stated that the number of COVID-free people should be few and far between at this point in the pandemic. However, only 76 percent of the U.S. population has had the virus.
James McClellan, 52, is another one of those people who have not developed the illness. He can be seen walking through the District’s busy Union Market wearing a mask. McClellan works for Banana Blossom Bistro. He believes taking precautions is only part of the reason he has been able to remain COVID-free. He also believes his immune system has protected him from the virus and other illnesses. McClellan said he has not had the flu since 1992. “Viruses don’t stick to me.”
He delivered food to 6,000 elderly people. His coworkers eventually contracted the virus and some died, but McClellan remained COVID-free.
Many people who have not tested positive for coronavirus do not understand why and believe they will eventually become sick. This study seeks to explore the exact reason(s) so many people have been able to avoid COVID.
Written by Jeanette Vietti
The Washington Post: The lucky few to never get coronavirus could teach us more about it; by Katie Shepherd and Joe Helm
BBC: Covid: Why are so many people catching it again?; by Robert Cuffe
WebMD: Omicron Symptoms 2 Days Shorter Than Delta; by Carolyn Crist