Coronavirus: Australian scientists map how immune system fig
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Scientists in Australia say they have identified how the body's immune system fights the Covid-19 virus.
Their research, published in Nature Medicine journal on Tuesday, shows people are recovering the new virus like they would in case of the flu.

Determining which immune cells are appearing should also help with vaccine development, experts say.
"This [discovery] is important because it is the first time, we are really understanding how our immune system fights novel coronavirus," said study co-author Prof Katherine Kedzierska, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne.

#What has been found?

Many people have recovered Covid-19, meaning it was already known that the immune system can successfully fight the virus. But for the first time, the research identified four types of immune cells which presented to fight Covid-19. They were observed by tracking a patient who had a mild-to-moderate case of the virus and no previous health issues.

The 47-year-old woman Wuhan, China, had presented to the hospital in Australia. She recovered within 14 days. Prof Kedzierska told the BBC her team had examined the "whole breadth of the immune response" in this patient. Three days before the woman began to improve, specific cells were spotted in her bloodstream. In influenza patients, these same cells also appear around this time before recovery, Prof Kedzierska said.

#How does this help?

Identifying when the immune cells kick in can help predict the course of the virus. "When you know when the various responses take place you can keep the track of viral recovery," said the author. Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt said the finding could also help "fast-track" a vaccine and potential treatments for infected patients.

#How experts are developing a coronavirus vaccine?

Prof Kedzierska said the next step for scientists was to determine why the immune response was weaker in worse cases. “It is really key now to understand what is lacking or different in patients who have died or who have really severe disease - so we can understand how to protect them," she said.

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