Common cold and COVID

The four endemic coronaviruses (eCoV: HCoV-OC43, -HKU1, -NL63, and -229E), the most common etiologic agents for the seasonal “common cold”, share sequence homology with SARS-CoV-2. Here, Joseph Mizgerd, Manish Sagar and colleagues show that individuals with a previously detected eCoV infection had less severe COVID-19 illness. They report the analysis of 15,928 patients who had at least one CRP-PCR (comprehensive respiratory panel polymerase chain-reaction) test. A positive test was previously detected in 875 of these patients (termed eCoV+), and the remaining 15,053 individuals (classified as eCoV-) never had a documented eCoV infection. The authors suggest that pre-existing immune responses against endemic human coronaviruses can mitigate disease manifestations from SARS-CoV-2 infection.


  eCoV- eCoV+
SARS-CoV-2 tested
(% of total)
1679 (11.2) 133 (15.2)
SARS-CoV-2+, no.

(% of tested)

437 (26.0) 33 (24.8)
Hospitalized, no.

(% of SARS-CoV-2+)

231 (52.9) 21 (63.6)
Intensive care unit, no.

(% of hospitalized)

65 (28.1) 1 (4.8)
Mechanical ventilation, no.

(% of hospitalized)

38 (16.4) 0 (0)


Sagar M, Reifler K, Rossi M, et al. Recent endemic coronavirus infection is associated with less severe COVID-19. J Clin Invest. 2020 Sep 30:143380. PubMed: Full-text:


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