LAIST – By this point in the pandemic, most Americans have had at least one bout of COVID-19.
For children under age 18, more than 80% of them have been infected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
But some people have been exposed multiple times but never had symptoms and never tested positive. Pediatrician Jean-Laurent Casanova says:
“We’ve heard countless anecdotes about nurses and health-care workers being exposed without any protection and remaining negative over and over again.”
“Or people share a household with someone who’s been coughing for a couple of weeks, and one person stays negative.”
“This mutation is quite common. We estimate that maybe 1 in 10 people have it. And in people who are asymptomatic, that rises to 1 in 5.”
So why haven’t these people caught COVID-19?
After two years of hunting, a team at UC San Francisco has come pretty close to answering the question.
“These findings are like hot off the presses,” says immunogeneticist Jill Hollenbach, who led the research. “We haven’t published them yet. It’s all stuff that’s been happening this summer.”
Hollenbach and her team have found a genetic mutation that doesn’t prevent the virus from infecting cells — that’s what Landau was searching for in his HIV research — but still does something remarkable: It prevents a person from having COVID-19 symptoms.
Turns out, stopping an infection altogether is an extremely tough nut for our bodies to crack.
What does it take to be a true superdodger?
Over the course of human history, scientists have identified only two instances of true virus superdodgers.
That is, where a specific mutation in their genes makes people completely resistant to a virus. So that it slides off their cells, “like water sliding off a glass window,” as Casanova puts it..
In 2003, a team in London showed how some people never get a stomach bug, called norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. The researchers found that one mutation in their genes prevents them from making a molecule the virus needs to infect the cell … READ MORE.