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Current Affairs

T cell immunity

Date: 21 July 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Singapore scientists have uncovered T cell immunity specific to SARS-CoV-2 in recovered Covid-19 & SARS patients, and also in uninfected individuals. 

 

Background

T cells, along with antibodies, are part of the human immune response against viral infections. The T cells directly target and kill infected cells.

 

Details

  • Memory T cells induced by previous pathogens can shape the susceptibility to, and clinical severity of, subsequent infections1. Little is known about the presence of pre-existing memory T cells in humans with the potential to recognize SARS-CoV-2.

  • In the study, the specific T cells were found in all subjects who recovered from SARS 17 years ago, and in over 50% of both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 uninfected individuals tested. This suggests that a level of pre-existing SARS-CoV-2 immunity is present in the general population.

  • They inferred that infection and exposure to coronaviruses induce long-lasting memory T cells, which could help in the management of the current pandemic.

  • This could be due to cross-reactive immunity obtained from exposure to other coronaviruses, such as those causing the common cold.

  • The researchers said it is important to understand if this could explain why some individuals are able to better control the infection.

  • Understanding how pre-existing specific T cells present in the general population impact susceptibility and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection is of paramount importance for the management of the current COVID-19 pandemic.