RTE Roundtable Talk #5: Natural Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (transcript)
Featuring Steven Pelech, PhD and James "Dr. Jack" Lyons-Weiler, PhD
This is the transcript for RTE Roundtable Talk #5:
[00:00:00] Liam Sturgess: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Rounding the Earth podcast. Rounding the Earth is a popular newsletter series published on Substack written by applied statistician and educator, Mathew Crawford, topics of discussion range from critical analysis of conventional wisdom to Bitcoin and everything in between.
[00:00:42] And of course, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is a careful examination of important topics and perspectives shaping the world that too few people talk about. Subscribe to Rounding the Earth on Substack Rumble, and YouTube to join a burgeoning research [00:01:00] community and to help us un-flatten the earth.
[00:01:03] My name is Liam Sturgess. I'm a musician music producer, and writer/editor coming at you live from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and I will be your host for today. And please allow me to introduce the author of Rounding the Earth and my co-host for the podcast. Mathew Crawford. How are you, Mathew?
[00:01:22] Mathew Crawford: Great, Liam. How are you?
[00:01:24] Liam Sturgess: Oh, very good. I got my coffee, raring to go.
[00:01:28] Mathew Crawford: It's my second podcast today.
[00:01:30] Liam Sturgess: Yeah, in fact, same- it sounds like our, our guest as well is coming off of a... I, I think he said he's pulled yet another all nighter working hard, fighting the good fight. So allow me to introduce Dr. Steven Pelech. How are you, sir?
[00:01:47] Steven Pelech: I'm fine. Thanks. This is good to join you, Liam. And Mathew pleasure to be here.
[00:01:52] Mathew Crawford: Thanks for joining us.
[00:01:54] Liam Sturgess: Yes, we really appreciate it. Now we have another guest joining us in a little bit, but we figured we'd [00:02:00] use this first 10 minutes or so to get to know you, Steve, and and hear a bit about the work you've done.
[00:02:06] The very important work in the COVID-19 context. Do you mind introducing yourself to the audience for some who may be familiar with your work? Others who may not be?
[00:02:16] Steven Pelech: Yeah, no, no problem. Again, it's Dr. Steven Pelech. I'm a professor in the division of neurology at the university of British Columbia, where I've been on faculty.
[00:02:26] I guess about 34 years now, I'm also the president of Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation. This company does I guess, analysis for cancer and, and diabetes research and neurological disorders for, I guess, about 2000 labs that we've serviced in, I guess hospitals and universities and companies the last 22 years.
[00:02:52] It's actually my second company. And I'm also the chair co-chair I should say, of the Canadian Covid Care [00:03:00] Alliance, the scientific and medical advisory committee. It's one of about 18 committees and, and of course I know Liam through my interactions with him through the, we say the " CCCA."
[00:03:11] Yeah. So that's sort of a bit of my background. I study with the Kinexus a clinical trial that we've been monitoring the levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus and people both from natural immunity and also from vaccines. So I can talk a little bit about that.
[00:03:30] Mathew Crawford: Yeah. Before you dive into what you've seen in terms of the antibody studies could you give the audience a little bit of a discussion?
[00:03:37] I know that immunology is a huge field and in fact, I'm used to I, I'm a generalist who likes to dive into new areas and try to gain you know, to hold on on expertise. But I found that studying immunology was just so broad and so huge. And my wife, who's also a biochemist. You know, at, at some point explained to me that, that we have more immune systems than she knows [00:04:00] the name for.
[00:04:00] But when we're talking about viruses, we are talking about an area of the immune system that perhaps we can make a little bit simpler for an audience. What are our main primary defense mechanisms against a virus like coronavirus?
[00:04:16] Steven Pelech: Sure. Well, I mean, we actually have. A very extensive immune system that has many different components to it.
[00:04:26] It's like an army Navy and air force. And so the, the first defenses that we have, especially as children is what we call our innate immune system. So these are macrophages and other white blood cells that travel around your lungs, for example, and in your airway spaces that, that clean up viruses and bacteria that may enter through the air, you know, into your respiratory system or into your intestinal system.
[00:04:54] And so what happens is these are very nonspecific, they're very effective. But [00:05:00] as you get older, you're exposed to these viruses and bacteria and fungi and parasites. And so your body develops what's called an adaptive immune system that it utilizes, and that's primarily two components. The, the T cells.
[00:05:17] Which will go and attack any cells of your own body that are actually infected with a virus or a bacteria, and also B cells and B cells like T cells or lymphocytes, and these lymphocytes, they produce antibodies. And so antibodies are, are like a little sticky protein that has a high affinity for the target protein that might be present on the surface of a virus or a bacteria.
[00:05:47] So these, these B cells shoot out these antibodies like artillery, it goes through your circulation also can be in your airway spaces and intestinal system. [00:06:00] And what it'll do is it'll lock on to the virus or the bacteria tag it and allow the innate immune system to better recognize it and basically eat it up, digest it, and again, educate more B cells to make antibodies and T-cells to be more specific. And so as you get more and more exposure to these kind of environmental infectious agents pathogens, your body recognizes it when it comes again and you take it out much faster with less likelihood for a severe illness as a consequence.
[00:06:38] So it's ...
[00:06:39] Mathew Crawford: Can I interject something here? So what you're talking about is something that happens, you know, kind of at the surface layer, right? You're talking about airways, you're talking about, and, and even though we're talking about digestive system, are, we're still talking about the epithelial layer.
[00:06:52] Steven Pelech: Yeah. Well, what happens is you have these immune cells, they travel all throughout your body. They'll be in your circulation. [00:07:00] They'll be in what we call the lymphatic system, which basically is in spaces, includes between your cells. As well, they'll travel into your airway spaces, into your lungs effectively outside your body.