The Body Is Far From Helpless Against Coronavirus Variants
The virus is evolving, but the antibodies that fight it can change, too
To locate some of the world's most super-powered cells, look no further than the human immune system. The mission of these hometown heroes is threefold: Memorize the features of dangerous microbes that breach the body's barriers. Launch an attack to bring them to heel. Then squirrel away intel to quash future assaults.
The immune system is comprehensive, capable of dueling with just about every microbe it meets. It's archival, ace at memorizing the details of its victories and defeats. It might be complicated, but it is also, simply put, cool as hell.
Now, a year into a pandemic, our immune systems face a new challenge. The coronavirus has picked up mutations that boost its ability to hop from human to human and thwart some of the antibodies that have reliably conquered it before. The protection offered by vaccines appears riddled with holes. Viruses evolve fast—faster than humans ever could. If the pandemic is a race, the coronavirus seems, at times, on the verge of lapping us.
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