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Negligible impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants on CD4+ and CD8+ T cell reactivity in COVID-19 exposed donors and vaccinees.

By Alison Tarke, John Sidney, Nils Methot, Jennifer M. Dan, Benjamin Goodwin, Paul Rubiro, Aaron Sutherland, Ricardo da Silva Antunes, April Frazier, Stephen A Rawlings, Davey M Smith, Bjoern Peters, Richard H. Scheuermann, Daniela Weiskopf, Shane Crotty, Alba Grifoni, Alessandro Sette

Posted 01 Mar 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.27.433180

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants highlighted the need to better understand adaptive immune responses to this virus. It is important to address whether also CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses are affected, because of the role they play in disease resolution and modulation of COVID-19 disease severity. Here we performed a comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses from COVID-19 convalescent subjects recognizing the ancestral strain, compared to variant lineages B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and CAL.20C as well as recipients of the Moderna (mRNA-1273) or Pfizer/BioNTech (BNT162b2) COVID-19 vaccines. Similarly, we demonstrate that the sequences of the vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes are not affected by the mutations found in the variants analyzed. Overall, the results demonstrate that CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses in convalescent COVID-19 subjects or COVID-19 mRNA vaccinees are not substantially affected by mutations found in the SARS-CoV-2 variants.

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