How SARS-CoV-2 Evades And Suppresses The Immune System (Part Two)

Like Covid-19, SARS emerged from long-incubating animal reservoirs. Why then did only Covid-19 spread far and wide? The reason is very likely the relative lethality between the two. People infected by SARS and MERS knew almost immediately, so severe were the symptoms. This made it easy for health officials to identify and control almost every case.

Not so for Covid-19. Though SARS-CoV-2 is certainly capable of causing severe illness and death, neither is the primary outcome. This virus is characterized first and foremost by its propensity for asymptomatic infection, which causes more than 50 percent of new infections. Proliferation, not pathogenesis, is its selective advantage. SARS-CoV-2 has evolved mechanisms that allow it to evade and suppress innate immunity, many of which kick in early, allowing the virus enough time to enter, proliferate, and exit before the immune system can respond.

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Originally published on Forbes (August 13, 2021)

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.