Monday 13 November 2023

My Original Sin

 I am aware of 'original sin', that rather unhelpful Christian doctrine (I speak as a Pelagian in the English tradition), but until today I had no idea there was such a thing as 'original antigenic sin'. Apparently the term was coined in 1960, in a paper by one Thomas Francis Jr, 'On the Doctrine of Original Antigenic Sin'. It's to do with the body's response to infections, and has been summarised thus: ' The imprint established by the original virus infection governs the antibody response thereafter. This we have called the Doctrine of the Original Antigenic Sin' – which seems a pretty tenuous link to Augustine's doctrine, but it's certainly a catchy name. Anyway, thanks to 'original antigenic sin', there is good news (for some of us): recent research suggests that having had lots of doses of the common cold in our early years, and later, might well give a useful level of protection against the dreaded SARS-CoV-2 virus, aka Covid. I've long suspected this myself – it was one of the more marginal reasons I decided against getting vaccinated – and I wonder if it might account for my own apparent immunity (or near immunity: if I had Covid, I didn't really notice). I spent much of my boyhood and youth catching every conceivable form of the common cold, some of which hung around miserably for weeks on end. If that was my 'original antigenic sin', it seems to have paid off – which is more than can be said for Augustine's version.  

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