Specific T-Cell Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 Revealed in Recovered COVID-19 and SARS Patients, and in Uninfected Controls; Results Published in Nature

Singapore scientists have uncovered SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell immunity in recovered COVID-19 and SARS patients, and in uninfected individuals. The study by scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School, in close collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) was published online on July 15, 2020 as an accelerated preview article in Nature. The findings suggest infection and exposure to coronaviruses induces long-lasting memory T-cells, which could help in the management of the current pandemic and in vaccine development against COVID-19. The open-access Nature article is titled “SARS-CoV-2-Specific T Cell Immunity in Cases of COVID-19 and SARS, and Uninfected Controls.” The team tested subjects who had recovered from COVID-19 and found the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cells in all of them, which suggests that T-cells play an important role in this infection. Importantly, the team showed that patients who recovered from SARS 17 years ago after the 2003 outbreak, still possess virus-specific memory T-cells and displayed cross-immunity to SARS-CoV-2. "Our team also tested uninfected healthy individuals and found SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cells in more than 50 percent of them. This could be due to cross-reactive immunity obtained from exposure to other coronaviruses, such as those causing the common cold, or presently unknown animal coronaviruses. It is important to understand if this could explain why some individuals are able to better control the infection," said Professor Antonio Bertoletti, MD, from Duke-NUS' Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) program, who is the corresponding author of this study.
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