- The new study claims that cellular or “T-cell” immunity against Covid-19 is likely to be present in most adults six months after the initial infection.
- Research by the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC), Public Health England and the University of Manchester NHS found “sustained T-cell responses” to the coronavirus six months after infection.
The new study claims that cellular or “T-cell” immunity against Covid-19 is likely to be present in most adults six months after the initial infection.
Research by the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC), Public Health England and the University of Manchester NHS found “sustained T-cell responses” to the coronavirus six months after infection.
T cells are part of our immune system that attacks cells infected with a virus or other pathogen and helps other antibody-producing cells in the immune system. Scientists are studying the response of T cells to the coronavirus to see how long any immune response can be in people who contract and recover from Covid-19.
This latest study looked at 100 people who tested positive for coronavirus in March and April 2020, but who were not hospitalized with the virus. All 100 people experienced mild to moderate symptoms or had no symptoms (56 versus 44), the study said.
Serum samples were collected monthly to measure antibody levels, and blood samples were taken six months later to assess the cellular (T-cell) response to the virus.
The study notes that a number of analyzes were performed to assess various aspects of the T cell response, including the magnitude of the response and the response to various proteins of the virus.
“T-cell responses were present in all people six months after infection with SARS-CoV-2,” the report said, indicating that “robust cellular memory against the virus persists for at least six months.”
However, the study found that “the magnitude of the T-lymphocyte response varied among people, it was significantly (50%) higher in people who had symptomatic illness at the time of infection six months ago.” The study has not yet been published or peer-reviewed.
Piece of the Covid-19 Jigsaw
The findings could improve our understanding of how coronavirus immunity works, as well as serve as a source of information for future vaccination strategies, according to a study by Dr. Shamez Ladhani, a consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England.
“Cellular immunity is a tricky but potentially very important piece of the Covid-19 puzzle, and it is important that more research is done in this area. However, early results indicate that T-cell responses can outlive the initial antibody response, which could have a significant impact on Covid vaccine development and immunity research. ”
The study notes that further research is now needed to assess whether this immune response persists in the long term and to better understand how the strength of the cellular immune response matches the likelihood of reinfection.
Professor Paul Moss, head of the Coronavirus Immunology Consortium at the University of Birmingham, said further work is needed to find out if people with Covid-19 symptoms are safer from re-infection in the future.
“Interestingly, we found that cellular immunity at this point was stronger in those people who had symptomatic infection compared to asymptomatic cases. We now need more research to find out if people with symptoms are better protected against future re-infection. ”