The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19) pandemic continues to cause morbidity and mortality. Since severe acute respiratory syndrome 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, Sager, et al. examined SARS-CoV-2 infections and outcomes from patients previously tested for CCC as part of a comprehensive respiratory panel using PCR and were segregated into negative (CCC–) or positive (CCC+) exposure. 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 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