(Corrects last paragraph to show the paper has been peer reviewed)

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A critical component of the immune system known as T cells that respond to fight infection from the original version of the novel coronavirus appear to also protect against three of the most concerning new virus variants, according to a U.S. laboratory study released on Tuesday.

Several recent studies have shown that certain variants of the novel coronavirus can undermine immune protection from antibodies and vaccines.

But antibodies – which block the coronavirus from attaching to human cells – may not tell the whole story, according to the study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). T cells appear to play an important additionally protective role.

“Our data,

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