What Are ‘Never-Coviders’ and How Can They Help Us End the Pandemic?

Health

What Are ‘Never-Coviders' and How Can They Help Us End the Pandemic?

At this point in the pandemic — which is weeks away from completing a third year — most people have caught COVID-19 despite best efforts to mask up, stay socially distant and inoculate against the virus.

Whether the virus caught up to you in the early days of the pandemic, last winter during the high-contagious omicron variant wave, or anywhere in between, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t come down with COVID-19. But that does not mean there aren’t people out there who have yet to test positive.

There’s a new classification for some of those lucky few who have dodged the virus: “never-coviders.”

Reporters at The New York Times recently discussed the rare phenomenon of people with natural immunities to COVID-19 who have evaded its grip over the past few years. The mystery behind their evasion could very well be a clue to future treatments against the coronavirus.

Take HIV, for example. A mutation resistant to the virus has helped led to a breakthrough in treatment and helped cure a few people of HIV.

The pandemic is about to enter a fourth year and still COVID-19 has a firm grip on the world. Major U.S. cities, including NYC, are once again encouraging people to mask up indoors and test regularly during the holiday season.

The number of hospitalizations and deaths, two of the signature metrics in tracking the intensity of the virus’s spread, are nowhere near the levels of last winter. Still, daily deaths over a seven-day average are up 65% from two weeks ago, according to The Times.

Not to be confused with people who have not yet caught the bug, researchers believe the section of the population that are naturally immune to the virus (never-coviders) won’t ever get sick. It’s that group that scientists want to research to better create a treatment against the unrelenting virus.

People “who are naturally immune and whose genetics could hold clues for treatment” are highly desirable to researchers hoping to make major steps in fighting back the pandemic. Finding those immune to the virus, most likely through genetic mutations, has proven difficult. Differentiating between people who have never contracted COVID-19 and those who were asymptomatic and did not know they had the virus remains a significant hurdle.

Odds of having natural immunity to COVID-19 remain remarkably low, but a few thousand wrote in to The Times sharing their experiences avoiding the virus (so far).

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