Correlation between severe COVID-19 and measles infection


08/05/2020 (last update 20/10/2020)

Previous version: Correlation between severe COVID-19 and measles infection (08/05/2020)


By Yaron Pharhi


-   Introduction:

I assume that there is a correlation between severe COVID-19 and measles infection.

Measles virus has the ability to damage the immune memory, what is known as "immune amnesia".

Later on, I will refer to an unknown disease as disease X.



-   Assumption:

The severe COVID-19 might be related to the following course of event:

o    Previous infection with the disease X which has an antigen similar to the COVID-19.

o    Measles infection.



-   The reasons for this assumption:

a.      By looking at the statistics on the coronavirus gather with my basic knowledge about measles I can see that:

1)      The older population showed significantly more severe illness and mortality rates than the rest of the population (we assume that before ~1970 most of the people were infected with measles in some stage in their life, from this reason I suspect the measles as the main factor).

2)      Children seem to be escaping from the severe effect of the coronavirus (seems that measles alone cannot be the only factor for this because although we have a vaccine for this epidemic, we still having a measles outbreaks from time to time, which is why I assume there is another factor involved, the disease X. The probability to have this disease before having a measles grows over the years).


b.      In biological terms, I can only raise a question that related to my assumption (not only because of my lack of knowledge, but also because there are still questions regarding to these topics):

1)      The following article [] suggest that because of similarity between rubella antibodies and COVID-19, previous infection from rubella could protect people from coronavirus (this make the rubella a possible X disease).

2)      From my understanding the "immune amnesia" phenomenon caused by the measles infection is not fully understood. In 2018 an experiment is made to study about this phenomenon by counting the variety of antibodies in children before and after measles outbreak []. The researches quote as saying "...children could rebuild the immunity they had lost, but only by being exposed to infections again, or being vaccinated." [] I don't know if this specific conclusion (interpretation) is acceptable by the science community (there is no recommendation for re-vaccination). But it may suggest that the "immune amnesia" may continue for many years.


           All these points raise the questions:

o   for a patient that had a rubella first and then measles. What do we know about their immune system and specially what we expect from their T cells that were originally cloned to protect against rubella?

o   In more general aspect, could the measles infection violate the balance between the immune system elements or damaged the elements, leaving the immune system in a vulnerable state in exposure to an antigen similar to another known antigen before the measles?


-   Contradict the assumption:

It is easier to contradict the assumption than to approve it (before continuing with this preliminary approach) by:

Investigate the severe coronavirus patients about previous measles vaccination/ infection (and what was the severe expressions). If they had measles the question about being vaccinated or exposed to rubella infection might help for further investigation. The focus should be on the young population (that not expected to have measles and we have their medical history).



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