Body’s response to allergic asthma helps protect against COVID-19

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have discovered a surprising positive side of some people with asthma: They are less susceptible to COVID-19.

The same immune system proteins that cause excess mucus production and airway closure in people with allergic asthma may build a shield around vulnerable airway cells, researchers report in the April 19 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The discovery helps explain why people with allergic asthma are less susceptible to COVID-19 than people with underlying lung conditions and could eventually lead to new treatments for coronavirus.

Asthma is a breathing disorder characterized by inflammation of the airways. This results in coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

About 8 percent of people in the US have asthma, and about 60 percent of them have allergic asthma. Allergic asthma symptoms are triggered by allergens such as pollen or pet dander.

Other types of asthma can be triggered by exercise, the weather, or breathing in irritants such as strong perfumes, cleaning products, or air pollution.

Asthma is usually bad news when it comes to colds and flu. Early in the pandemic, most experts predicted that coronavirus infections and asthma would be a dangerous combination, says Luc Bonser, a cell biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study.

This is true for people whose asthma is not triggered by allergies and for people with underlying lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. These diseases put people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

But as the pandemic progressed, researchers noticed that people with allergic asthma did not develop severe COVID-19 as often as expected.

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