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Characterization of anti-viral immunity in recovered individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2

By Ling Ni, Fang Ye, Meng-Li Chen, Yu Feng, Yong-Qiang Deng, Hui Zhao, Peng Wei, Jiwan Ge, Xiaoli Li, Lin Sun, Pengzhi Wang, Peng Liang, Han Guo, Xinquan Wang, Cheng-Feng Qin, Fang Chen, Chen Dong

Posted 20 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.17.20036640

The WHO has declared SARS-CoV-2 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. However, to date, there was hardly any study in characterizing the immune responses, especially adaptive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this study, we collected blood from COVID-19 patients who have recently become virus-free and therefore were discharged, and analyzed their SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody and T cell responses. We observed SARS-CoV-2-specific humoral and cellular immunity in the patients. Both were detected in newly discharged patients, suggesting both participate in immune-mediated protection to viral infection. However, follow-up patients (2 weeks post discharge) exhibited high titers of IgG antibodies, but with low levels of virus-specific T cells, suggesting that they may enter a quiescent state. Our work has thus provided a basis for further analysis of protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2, and understanding the pathogenesis of COVID-19, especially in the severe cases. It has also implications in designing an effective vaccine to protect and treat SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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