Happy International Day of Immunology

We're Professor Tracy Hussell, Professor Sheena Cruickshank, and Dr Pedro Papotto from the Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation at the University of Manchester. We're here to answer your questions about immunology, including COVID-19, and anything else related!


Edit: That's a wrap! Thank you for all your questions and for helping us to mark International Day of Immunology. If you want to know more about the fantastic immunology research we're doing at the Becker please visit our website

Comments: 535 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

PeanutSalsa147 karma

What happened with the herd immunity idea that after enough people receive vaccinations, covid would go away? Did it not live up to expectations or was the result as expected?

UniOfManchester258 karma

The herd immunity idea continued though clinicians and scientists stopped mentioning it as people mistook what was meant. It has worked as certain strain have now stopped spreading

leonardicus61 karma

Isn’t this more readily explained by newer, more fit variants outcompeting the old strains? What is the evidence that it is due to herd immunity and not competition? These are both population level phenomena, so herd immunity, to whatever extent it exists, would be preventive of other strains. I don’t know how you can resolve the confounding.

EmeraldIbis40 karma

I'm also an immunologist but not working on Covid. I would actually disagree with OP because early talk about herd immunity was based on the assumption that infection or vaccination would lead to sterilizing immunity. Many infections cause sterilizing immunity, which means you can't be infected more than once. That turned out not to be the case for Covid-19.

Mass vaccination is still vital because subsequent infections after a first infection or vaccination are generally more mild, which puts less strain on the healthcare system. This means the survival rate is much higher even for severe cases because they can access good healthcare.

In theory mild and asymptomatic cases are also less transmissible due to less coughing and lower viral loads, which means the virus spreads less to other people. This would be an example of partial herd immunity. However, the real-world impact of this is a bit unclear because people with mild symptoms are much more likely to go to work or school and interact with lots of people, while people with severe symptoms would stay at home in bed.

I guess it's true that herd immunity worked for the initial strain, but that's not what anybody was talking about when they mentioned herd immunity at the beginning of the pandemic.

UniOfManchester3 karma

I was including mass vaccination in the development of herd immunity

UniOfManchester146 karma

SARS COV-2 is a coronavirus and there are several of this family of viruses that can cause human disease. It was always a worry with a coronavirus that it would be challenging to develop long term immunity- some common colds are rtpes of coronavirus.

However herd immunity is still important. Although it was hoped the vaccines would prevent further re-infection, they have not and instead reduce severity, likelihood of long covid and death. They do also reduce the level of transmission.

Current research is trying to develop long term vaccines that will prevent disease completely

onlyalmost133 karma

Is there any evidence that treating covid with antivirals during the acute infection can reduce the risk of developing long covid?

thanks so much for doing this!!

DaveMTIYF125 karma

Thanks for doing this. Do you have any favourite facts about the human immune system that the average layperson might find surprising?

UniOfManchester202 karma

Thanks Dave - lots of interesting facts abound e.g:

  1. The immune system underlies most of the diseases important to humans today
  2. A lot of our knowledge has come from studing the immune system of flies and worms!
  3. Without an immune system you would have to live in a sterile bubble
  4. There are immune cells in every part of your body - including your gums.
  5. Immune cells recognised anything foreign but also damaged tissues

kaqqao5 karma

I thought there were parts of the body without immune cells, like the insides of eyeballs. Is that wrong?

UniOfManchester23 karma

Everywhere has immune cells or cells involved in immunity. I places like the eye and brain they are inhibited by the local microenvironment

acertaingestault2 karma

Am I reading number one correctly that the immune system causes disease? Surely that can't be what you're trying to say?

UniOfManchester19 karma

Yes, it is correct. Autoimmunity, transplantation, allergies etc are all caused by your immune system gone haywire

UniOfManchester62 karma

Hello everyone! Looking forward to your questions

Quest10Mark45 karma

Hi, and thank you for doing this. I don't know if you can answer this but, I am immunocompromised due to SLL and I am being treated with Chemo for it (pill form). I have been living in almost full lock down for the past three years. How careful do I really need to be? I am trying to find a balance between caution and returning to a regular life but there isn't really much guidance on the dos and don'ts of everyday life.

UniOfManchester45 karma

I am sorry to hear that. There is research out on what works best on immunocompromised patients like yourself. A recent systemic study looked at all Clinical studies from 1 January 2021 to 1 October 2022 of immunocompromised patients, particularly those with blood cancer, who received tixagevimab/cilgavimab (aka Evusheld). 18 studies, with 25 345 immunocompromised participants were assessed. The overall clinical effectiveness of tixagevimab/cilgavimab against COVID-19 breakthrough infection, hospitalisation, intensive care admission and COVID-19-specific mortality was 40.54%, 66.19%, 82.13% and 92.39%, respectively. Tixagevimab/cilgavimab DID work at reducing COVID-19 infection & severe outcomes for immunosuppressed individuals, including patients with a haematological malignancy. We still need more 3rd generation drugs but it does look like combinations can help.

UniOfManchester23 karma

there are also several excellent support groups who share tips and advice so look for these where you live.

UniOfManchester23 karma

Check out this website for great advice on cancer and chemotherapy.


SpaceElevatorMusic45 karma

Hello, and thanks for the AMA.

What progress has been made on diagnosing and treating long Covid?

UniOfManchester62 karma

LongCovid is very complex- good review here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41579-022-00846-2- its multifactorial which can make its management and diagnosis problematic. Researchers are picking up markers associated with it which may help and there are several trials look at therapies. However given its so diverse, people do need to be stratified well into appropriate groups for the best treatment.

UniOfManchester15 karma

I guess one interesting question is whether these patients had these symptoms before COVID or developed it as a consequence of infection

UniOfManchester20 karma

Evidence is for the latter and especially severe infection has a greater liklihood of developing the infection.

UniOfManchester19 karma

I mean those with severe COVID more likely to get Long Covid- loads of studies have shown this

IronFeather10141 karma

I'm very curious about one thing. Is there a reliable way to know if a person is immune to COVID? For a vaccinated person, I suppose you can measure their level of some kind of antibodies, right? And for an unvaccinated person, is there any way of knowing the probability of them being asymptomatic if they catch it, or knowing if they have previously been in contact wit the virus without developing the illness? Thank you very much!

UniOfManchester56 karma

Hello. For both the vaccinated and unvaccinated (but infected asymptomatically) you can measure antibody in their blood. There is no way to tell if a non-vaccinated person will be asymptomatic when they catch the virus however. Even very healthy non-vaccinated people can get severe disease.

IronFeather1017 karma

Thank you. So, is there no way to know if an unvaccinated person has been in contact with the virus before, if it was months ago? They could have been asymptomatic and there would be no way to ever know? From what I understand from your response, it would only be possible to find out if they are currently infected, not if they were in the past.

UniOfManchester10 karma

antibodies can be measured some time after vaccination. more technical studies could be done to look for evidence of memory immune responses

adinuta41 karma

So where did it come from?

UniOfManchester34 karma

the evidence supports it being a bat virus that was transmitted to another animal and then to us- this is from tracing RNA evidence and also look at the sequences

Evolutiondd30 karma

Do you feel there is a real chance that a new virus will break out in next decade that will shut the world down again?

UniOfManchester60 karma

We have had a spate of viruses emerge including pandemic flu, SARS and mers. THe chances are there will be another serious one - though as deadly as SARS-CoV-2, I don't know.

Myomyw25 karma

I’ve heard a lot of chatter that Covid causes long term or permanent damage to the immune system, and that this explains why people have been catching colds/flus at higher frequencies this year.

People that say this also like to claim that “immunity debt” is a myth and that immune systems aren’t “trained” so to speak.

Is there truth to this or are they misinterpreting studies that have come out?

I see a lot of this conversation taking place in forums for parents with young children. It seems like they’re trying to explain away why their toddler is constantly sick all year, if that helps to provide context.

UniOfManchester15 karma

Hi, good question. There does seem to be a longer term impact in people with Long Covid associated with greater activity of immune system and inflammation. however we are not seeing clear evidence of long lasting deficits on immune function as summarised here https://theconversation.com/does-covid-really-damage-your-immune-system-and-make-you-more-vulnerable-to-infections-the-evidence-is-lacking-197253

Much of the chatter misinterpreted studies and is wrong.

Max-_-Power24 karma

I'm a frequent user of public transport. Ever since the pandemic I'm wearing a FFP2 mask when I'm on public transport. My thought is that we all should have worn masks in the first place, even before COVID-19. You know, like they often do in Japan.

I have not been sick since. OK, sample of 1, I know. It does not mean much.

My question is: Would an immunologist wear a mask on public transport. If so, why? If not, why not?

UniOfManchester10 karma

I would certainly wear a mask on public transport if told to do so. As a general rule though I would not as I like to breathe freely, find masks uncomfortable and, to be honest feel there are benefits to experiencing our infectious world to develop good immunity. If I had an underlying condition that made each respiratory condition life threatening then clearly I would wear a mask. Each to their own

jeannerbee23 karma

Why did so many people who received the vaccine still get COVID??

UniOfManchester114 karma

No vaccine will be 100% effective. That happens both because the immune system might work in a slightly different manner between individuals, and also because the pathogens like viruses can escape the protection. What is important is that even though some people still get infected, their symptoms are much milder and the risk of death is greatly reduced.

UniOfManchester65 karma

The vaccine was not disease blocking but did reduce severe covid, death and chance of developing long covid. Researchers are trying to develop disease blocking longer lasting vaccines eg nasal vaccines and the USA has announced a massive investment in this.

Mermaid-5219 karma

I tested positive on the home test kit and was sick for a month. I thought it was Omicron bc I had been fully vaccinated for COVID19. But I was surprised that it lasted that long if it was Omicron and I had the loss of smell issues that I am still dealing with to this day.

Could Omicron cause the loss of sense of smell feature? And: Moving forward is it possible to create a home test that will identify a particular strain of a virus during upcoming pandemics?

UniOfManchester35 karma

The at home kits are not able to distinguish different variants- this is done by genetic sequencing. The home tests pick up highly conserved parts of the virus which means they deal well with variants which may have for example altered spike (the bit of the virus that it uses to get into your cells)

There have been a lot of variants of Omicron with varying levels of severity. the way you respond to the virus depends- for example if you were originally infected with the original COVID strain (ancestral) it means your immune response is "imprinted" and this can mean you feel more grotty when you get the infection. If you had been vaccinated and never had the infection prior to covid that can make you do better. But equally everyone's immune system is impacted by eg how old they are, if they have comorbidities such as diabetes that can make their immune system less effective and the symptoms worse.

The symptoms are also quite diverse and we learned a lot about those from the Zoe app for example. Loss of smell is still sadly quite common.

Karumpus14 karma

How do you handle communicating scientific principles to lay people? Especially with COVID-19, I found that people would wildly misinterpret the results of a study (eg, a paper that said transmissibility was not reduced from vaccines if you are vaccinated and then infected with the virus, and people misinterpreting that to mean transmissibility is not at all reduced if you’re vaccinated, because the scientific jargon proved quite hard to parse).

Do you think a “simple English” or a “lay person” section at the start should be mandatory in all scientific papers? Would this help or hinder research in any way?

UniOfManchester13 karma

That is a really great idea. When writing grants to get funding, we always have to write a lay abstract - so why not with papers. You should contact the Nature and Elsevier publishing group and suggest it - I certainly will!

Additional-Ability9912 karma

Are you aware of any studies regarding the placebo effect on the immune system?

UniOfManchester26 karma

That is a very interesting but complicated topic. We don't know exactly how the placebo effect works, but it is believed that involves the nervous system and the production of some proteins called neurotransmitters. What we do know is that some immune cells sense and are modulated by these neurotransmitters. So, in theory the placebo effect could modulate the immune system via the stimulation of neurotransmitters. However, this is still a matter of debate. Specially, because this is a very difficult area of research, as the right controls are very difficult to implement. You can read a bit more on this study published here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-021-01365-x

UniOfManchester-2 karma

A placebo would have no impact on the immune system

smallaubergine12 karma

Are there any studies on how critical mask wearing is in 2023? I have a close relative who is still extremely cautious and doesn't meet people, requires masks when people are visiting and won't even eat with you if you're both sitting outside and within a few feet of each other. I feel like it's a bit too much and is straining family relationships, but I also don't really understand the science of it all and what risks we are taking when the family gets together without masks. I know basically everyone has given up on masking (at least where I live) but I would love to hear from scientists on what the current research suggests

UniOfManchester21 karma

Certain people have been wearing masks since long before the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately the pandemic made people realise just how easy it is to transmit viruses from one person to the next and so became cautious. Masks will reduce transmission but, as you say, can impede normal family interactions. I guess we have to respect their decision and recognise they are simply scared. Any group gathering will promote spread of a virus if someone is infected

GeriToni12 karma

If someone has Covid now, they don’t need to self isolate anymore. Why is not taken serious anymore? Like nobody cares anymore if one has Covid.

UniOfManchester6 karma

Key question, thank you. At the start of the pandemic our immune system had never encountered the virus and so in everyone it had the potential to cause severe disease. Until we had a vaccine, the best way to slow its spread was to break the human chain i.e isolate from one another. Now most of us have immunity, through vaccination and/or natural infection and so the severity of symptoms is less and it is likely anyone you pass it to will react the same. Be assured that hospitalisation rates are being monitored. If anything drastically changes then new rules will be applied. However, at present most seem to have some form of protection

angiearch11 karma

Dear Professors, thank you for taking the time to do this AMA.

Could you please enlighten me regarding the utilisation of immunotherapy, like monoclonal antibody in Covid-19 treatment?

Thank you

UniOfManchester19 karma

Great question. There is a good review here https://doi.org/10.1017/erm.2021.30

A lot of therapeutics were tested during COVID and some showed promise. As we learn about the disease, more options become available, which is why studying immunology is so important!

UniOfManchester17 karma

The most common use of monoclonal antibodies are therapeutically to help treat Covid particularly those with poor functioning immune systems- typically these will target spike on the SARCOV-2 virus and help erradicate the virus. Some can be used prophylactically to help prevent covid and EVUSHIELD is one example that has good persistence and has been used for those folks who are immunosupressed.

angiearch4 karma

I read that EVUSHIELD is no longer authorized in the US because it does not effectively neutralize many newer COVID-19 variants.

Hope your research about the therapy can catch up with the speed of COVID-19 variants.

UniOfManchester6 karma

different antibodies are still working well and can be used in combination with anti-viral drugs and this is constantly being monitored and evaluated

ediebouvierbeagle11 karma

Hello! A couple of questions if that’s ok - second bout of long covid here

Do you think mast cell activation syndrome (or overactive mast cells even) is a part of some cases of long covid? I have had symptoms consistent with this ( and prob always have, but milder and ?cycle related), but currently much exaggerated. Partial response to fexofenadine, quercetin and famotidine. Are any treatments being studied re mcas/covid?

I seem to remember Danny Altman was looking at autoimmunity - is this still being investigated as a cause of long covid?

Thank you!

UniOfManchester5 karma

Have a look at this great review - this is a link to the full text.


Seems that COVID may be revealing a mast cell activation syndrome, but it is likely to contribute to symptoms too.

Danny Altmann and many others have identified raised autoantibodies reacting to many self proteins in COVID. So there is certainly an autoimmune link.

Alwayssunnyinarizona10 karma

What parallels, if any, have you seen with feline coronavirus infections/feline infectious peritonitis?

UniOfManchester9 karma

feline coronavirus infections/feline infectious peritonitis?

Interesting question. The consequences of virus infection are quite similar because they share similarities in how the divide and the cells they infect. Also, immunity to viruses is similar across different types. In high numbers, most viruses cause significant disease and death. Thus there may be similarities to feline coronavirus, but most cats are assymptomatic. Different species may show different severities however

UniOfManchester7 karma

In the specific case of the feline infectious peritonitis things are a bit more different, as this condition comes from mutant forms of the feline coronavirus and we still don't know much how these changes happen and what is behind disease progression in cats.

willowsonthespot10 karma

I know it is a bit late into this as it was posted a while ago by the time of asking. Do you know if at all there is evidence that COVID could have caused Fibromyalgia in people? I know of 2 people including myself that developed it after getting COVID. Considering from what I have read that Fibro is a autoimmune I was wondering if there is anything showing that COVID can cause something like that.

UniOfManchester12 karma

The symptoms of Fibromyalgia and long-COVID can be quite similar, so it's difficult sometimes to tell them apart and to say that one was the cause of the other. Also, the causes of Fibro are still under investigation.

UniOfManchester5 karma

Fantastic review on this at the following link:


Whether COVID causes it or reveals it, is a matter of debate

aether_surfer9 karma

did our expertise in long-term surveillance projects (eg for tb) help us in crisis management during the pandemic or subsequently, or were we mostly looking to other countries’ responses (eg sars) to inform our strategy?

UniOfManchester16 karma

Modelling for influenza pandemic had been done prior to the COVID pandemic which was useful but we do need to do more modelling exercises for something like covid (which is more virulent than flu). we can also learn from many fo the East Asian countries that has experienced eg SARS and did well in their response e.g. Japan. Tools like genomic surveillance and wastewater analysis are incredibly useful too. Most of all maintaining our international links is vital and good communication and sharing of surveillance findings and bets practice. Another key aspect is supporting medical systems as these need to be resilient to ensure that responses are as good as they can be

BakerofHumanPies9 karma

Has there been any progress on developing a universal Covid vaccine that works for all current and future varients? I heard about something the US military was developing in 2021 but haven't seen any updates.

UniOfManchester20 karma

Yes- there is lots of interest in this. two main approaches being considered- multivalent that will recognise multiple features of the virus and be better at dealing with variants and nasal vaccines which could block transmission. This lay article covers a lot of this: https://theconversation.com/covid-inhalable-and-nasal-vaccines-could-offer-more-durable-protection-than-regular-shots-193576

I am not aware of the military doing research in this space but certainly the US government have recently announced a massive push to support such research

Ok-Feedback56048 karma

Is it true that in future covid will become just a normal flu?

UniOfManchester34 karma

we hope it will be come milder currently its has 4-5 waves per year which varies from flu so it may never be seasonal like flu however hopefully milder but there is no guarantee so sequencing and monitoring is critical

UniOfManchester22 karma

Most viruses adapt to the host and become less severe with time - we needed to get to know SARS-CoV--2. As long as we dont create an entirely new coronavirus we have not seen before, it should circulate like flu

Ok-Feedback56046 karma

the way coronavirus mutating itself,so according to this mutations are there changes coming in the immunity of human beings as well?(I mean our immunity getting better or worse if we compare to virus' mutation speed?)

UniOfManchester13 karma

This depends on how much the virus mutates. If it is a delicate drift then chances are our immune system will recognise some parts of the new virus and protect us. If the virus does dramatic shifts in proteins then our immune system will need to develop to the new strain

JointOps5 karma

I have an autoimmune disease called Ulcerative Colitis that is keeping me up at night every hour and half… how can I deal with the pain and get enough sleep throughout the night at the same time?

UniOfManchester2 karma

I am so sorry you are suffering so badly. Ulcerative colitis is one of a collection of diseases associated with inflammation of the intestines and is verry hard to treat. It's cause is unclear but a lot of evidence points towards an abnormally vigorous immune response. As such, anti-inflammatories are commonly used. A great source for relieving symptoms is: https://www.bing.com/ck/a?!&&p=f41ed2a37f3ac008JmltdHM9MTY4MjgxMjgwMCZpZ3VpZD0xZjczMzI3NC05OGU3LTZmYjMtMzRhMi0zOWQzOTkyNjZlZjkmaW5zaWQ9NTI0Mw&ptn=3&hsh=3&fclid=1f733274-98e7-6fb3-34a2-39d399266ef9&psq=ulcerative+colitis+treatment&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubmhzLnVrL2NvbmRpdGlvbnMvdWxjZXJhdGl2ZS1jb2xpdGlzLw&ntb=1

However, do speak with your GP or consulting team about management

RealLADude4 karma

Does it make sense to get a second bivalvent vaccination?

UniOfManchester15 karma

A bi-vlent vaccine provides the potential to protect against different virus strains, instead of just one. As virues tend to change consistently, bi-valents are very sensible

RealLADude5 karma

Right, but I’ve had one. Does immunity wane? Should I get another?

UniOfManchester12 karma

Some vaccines cause long term protection. Evidence suggests that immunity does wane to coronavirus and so it is important to top up with others

UniOfManchester9 karma

Immunity does wane and this is particularly so for people who are considered more clinically vulnerable. Check guidelines where you live on what is available. You may also want to factor in for example how long it was since you last had ithe vaccine or COVID when deciding when to have the booster

Tcheo934 karma

What was the root cause of SARSCOV-2 ?

UniOfManchester13 karma

I guess the appearance of a coronavirus that our immune systems had never seen before, which meant we had no protection from previous infections

lighsage3 karma

Any idea on why COVID damages nerves? And if those nerves recover?

UniOfManchester3 karma

COVID in some causes nerve pain Guillain-Barré syndrome, cranial polyneuritis, neuromuscular junction disorders, neuro-ophthalmological disorders, neurosensory hearing loss, etc etc etc. SARS-CoV-2 affects the central nervous system and involves the perihperal nervous system, which may be due to dysregulation of the immune system attributable to COVID-19. So nerve damage may be a side effect of an excessive immune reaction. Unknown at present on the rate of recovery

curmudgeon_andy3 karma

What are the most reasonable ways to reduce your chances of catching long COVID for people of average health?

If you do catch long COVID, how can it be treated?

How likely is long COVID to turn into a serious disability? I have heard of some people who shake it off within months and some who require constant care.

Who is most at risk of catching long COVID? Are there some cohorts which should continue 2020 levels of quarantine?

UniOfManchester2 karma

Hello, Long COVID is a post-viral infection complication and seems to affect both patients who were hospitalised, but also those who had a mild infection in the community. The best way to not get long covid is to be vaccinated. Vaccination doesnt stop infection, but it reduces the length of time the virus is in your body. Treatment of long covid depends on your precise symptoms. THere is some evidence that using anti-virals in the initial infection can reduce development of long covid

bodrules3 karma

Has covid taught as anything new about the immune system or how it responds to novel infections?

UniOfManchester2 karma

The biggest thing COVID has taught us is what we can acheive by working together. All specialities running 100 meters in parallel instead of a 400 meter relay race! A vaccine developed and administered in rapid time. Interaction between awesome people. It has once again shown us that the immune system is both the cause of disease and its cure!

slonhr3 karma

After the experience with COVID-19, are we ready for another pandemic? If not, why not?

UniOfManchester2 karma

We learn from each pandemic and we learned a lot from COVID. However, these respiratory viruses change a lot. This happens because when they are reproducing, they make mistakes in their genetic material. This means the proteins produced from these altered genes is different each time. Scientists spend huge amounts of time watching how the genetic material drifts from one strain to another. They then predict what the next train might look like and make a vaccine. When a totally new virus appears out of the blue - this is when we are unprepared. The key to being prepared is to have the excellent science base to jump on these problems as they arise

guido_lois3 karma

What are you looking forward to in the next 5 to 10 years in your field ?

UniOfManchester3 karma

An interesting question to which individuals will have their own answers

For me, Immunology underpins most diseases affecting mankind and holds the cures to them. In the next 5 to 10 years I'm really looking forward to scientists examining immune cells within th context of their local environment. The local environment has a massive effect on immune cells and so examining in context will drive new understandings and new medicines

burneyboy012103 karma

Have you vaxed yourself?

UniOfManchester5 karma

Yes, 3 times now

External_Steak_14763 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA, any tips you would suggest for people to increase their immunity?

UniOfManchester13 karma

As boring as this may sound, the best way to enhance immunity is practicing a healthy lifestyle. Having a well balanced diet, being physically active and avoiding excesses (specially regarding tobacco and alcohol) is still the best way to maintain a good immune system.

UniOfManchester9 karma

Also, stress reduces immunity so be calm

BakerofHumanPies3 karma

Whatever happened to the Oxford vaccine that was in the works in 2020? It seemed so promising at the time (for a lay person).

UniOfManchester26 karma

The Oxford vaccine was developed by AstraZenecca and is one of the most widely utilized vaccines across the globe

UniOfManchester10 karma

The Oxford Vaccine is what now we call Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (or ChAdOx1-S recombinant vaccine). This is a safe and effective vaccine that is currently available worldwide and it has an efficacy of 72% against symptomatic infection. More here: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-oxford-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-what-you-need-to-know

sendnubes2 karma

My mother recently had stroke symptoms, couldn’t speak, couldn’t really move, why does Covid cause these symptoms?

UniOfManchester2 karma

We don’t fully know why yet. there Are few ideas though. the virus binds to ace2 which it uses to enter cells. ace2 is also highly expressed in vascular cells and so maybe the virus causes damage to blood vessels. It has also been shown to affect things like clotting which may cause blockages. Finally an overly vigorous immune response may cause damage and weaken blood vessel(vascular walls)

tan_and_bones2 karma

Could it be possible that the BioNTech vaccine triggers sarcoidosis type 3, is there any prove that the spike protein is capable of causing immune diseases? Not a conspiracy question just curious if there is anything to those claims. Also thanks for doing this!

UniOfManchester6 karma

Infection, not vaccine , are associated with a greater chance of developing autoimmunity eg https://www.nature.com/articles/s41584-023-00964-y

staffsmarie2 karma

Hello. Is there any chance of getting a vaccine soon that stops all Covid variants so Covid effectively disappears like tuberculosis or smallpox?

UniOfManchester3 karma

We hope so and research is focusing on multi variant vaccines that target lots of different bits of the virus and mucosal vaccines like nasal inhalable vaccines that may block the virus completely this article talks about it and latest developments https://theconversation.com/covid-inhalable-and-nasal-vaccines-could-offer-more-durable-protection-than-regular-shots-193576

monnotorium2 karma

Are there any new treatments for CVID on the horizon?

UniOfManchester2 karma

very likely yes both in terms of anti virals that will kill virus or inhibit it replicating and immunotherapies that support the immune response in killing it. A lot of work currently is looking at how we can best combine and use the drugs and therapies that we have to provide the best therapy

ravioliraviolii2 karma

Thanks for the AMA. I was wondering what are your thoughts were on the funding landscape for immunology & infectious disease research in the UK A) following COVID and B) following Brexit and losing out on EU funding?

UniOfManchester3 karma

Thank you for raising this point that is close to my heart. We are amazingly low of R&D spend, which can be measures as a percentage per capita. The UK does not feature in the top 20 countries for research spend. The world average is 2.5 % of gross domestic product - the UK is 1.7 %. There is an ambition to reach 2.4 % by 2027. A shock when you consider how awesome British Scientists are. See government link below


UniOfManchester5 karma

By the way, Brexit reduced funding further and, more importantly, the ability to recruit key researchers from EU countries

PsychoticDust2 karma

Hi there, someone close to me is convinced that COVID-19 vaccines are "toxic" and won't have them anymore. Please can you explain to them why that isn't the case, and also explain what immunology is in layman's terms? I really don't want them to get ill. Thank you all so much.

Edit: @downvotes: I am in no way an anti vaxxer. In fact, I think immunisation and knowledge is very important. I just want to prove to someone close to me that vaccines are indeed safe, and you don't get an opportunity like this everyday.

UniOfManchester5 karma

Hi! The formulation of vaccines does not use toxic products. Usually you have very small quantities of harmless virus or bacteria, stabilizers and water. Safety of the vaccines is still closely monitored by governments and the companies producing them, and after millions people having been vaccinated they are still considered very safe! Here you will find all the info you need about the COVID vaccines all in layman's terms: https://www.immunology.org/sites/default/files/2023-03/BSI_GuidetoCOVIDvaccinations_Mar23-v2.pdf
The immune system protects us from all kinds of infections through specialized cells and proteins. Immunology is the science that studies how the immune system works.

memmalou2 karma

To what extent do you feel that COVID-19 (and long COVID in particular) will impact on our understanding of conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome/ME?

UniOfManchester4 karma

Good question. THe COVID pandemic has raised the urgency for research into fatigue and many science funding bodies now have a specific call for ideas. THerefore I think there will be new investigations shortly

Tonyhillzone-4 karma

How infuriating is it when you see/hear anti-vaxors or covid conspiracy theorists trying to convince people not to vaccinate?

And for the benefit of those people, have you conspired with hundreds of thousands of doctors, scientists and researchers worldwide to hide the side effects of vaccines or to overstate the danger of covid?

UniOfManchester29 karma

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should make their own informed decision. Vaccines are used globally and have saved billions of lives. There are no conspiracy's

UniOfManchester29 karma

It is important to note that the best way to make an informed decision is to find trusted sources of information. Usually these are people and organisations that share data from large scale studies, and not only anecdotal evidence based in small groups of people or cherry-picked results just make a point.