Many countries are moving to exit a lockdown triggered by COVID-19, but the virus has not gone away and there are real concerns that a second wave of infection could happen. We urgently need to understand more about how the body deals with this infection and what we can do to tackle it. Immunology has taken centre stage here in revealing what happens when our body fights this virus, and brings us the possibility of treatments and vaccines.
One of the most amazing things about our immune system is that it can fight germs it has never encountered before. We understand much about how this works, and this detailed knowledge seeds ideas about how COVID-19 could be tackled with a vaccine or other types of drugs, such as those that have made AIDS a disease that can be controlled. But we must be under no illusion – it will take time. There are seven known types of coronavirus that infect humans and we don’t have a vaccine against any of them.