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There is an urgent need to better understand the pathophysiology of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2. Here, we apply single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) to peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 7 patients hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 and 6 healthy controls. We identify substantial reconfiguration of peripheral immune cell phenotype in COVID-19, including a heterogeneous interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) signature, HLA class II downregulation, and a novel B cell-derived granulocyte population appearing in patients with acute respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation. Importantly, peripheral monocytes and lymphocytes do not express substantial amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines, suggesting that circulating leukocytes do not significantly contribute to the potential COVID-19 cytokine storm. Collectively, we provide the most thorough cell atlas to date of the peripheral immune response to severe COVID-19.

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