A new study that analyzed the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil has found a link between the spread of the virus and past outbreaks of dengue fever that suggests exposure to the mosquito-transmitted illness may provide some level of immunity against COVID-19.
The not yet published study led by Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University, and shared exclusively with Reuters, compared the geographic distribution of coronavirus cases with the spread of dengue in 2019 and 2020.
Places with lower coronavirus infection rates and slower case growth were locations that had suffered intense dengue outbreaks this year or last, Nicolelis found.
“This indicates that there is an immunological interaction between two viruses that nobody could have expected, because the two viruses are from completely different families,” Nicolelis said, adding that further studies are needed to prove the connection. The study was being published ahead of peer review on the MedRxiv preprint server and will be submitted to a scientific journal. It highlights a significant correlation between lower incidence, mortality and growth rate of COVID-19 in populations in Brazil where the levels of antibodies to dengue were higher.
The team found a similar relationship between dengue outbreaks and a slower spread of COVID-19 in other parts of Latin America, as well as Asia and islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Inputs: Reuters, TOI