The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to cause morbidity and mortality. Since SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was identified as the cause for COVID-19, some have questioned whether exposure to seasonal common cold coronaviruses (CCCs) could provide tangible protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection or disease. In this issue of the JCI, Sagar et al. examined SARS-CoV-2 infections and outcomes of patients who had previously tested positive or negative for CCC infection (CCC+ or CCC–) by a comprehensive respiratory panel using PCR. No differences were seen between groups in terms of susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, hospitalized patients with a documented history of CCC infection had lower rates of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and higher rates of survival than hospitalized CCC– patients. While these findings are associative and not causative, they highlight evidence suggesting that previous CCC infection may influence the disease course of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
David K. Meyerholz, Stanley Perlman