Singapore scientists have uncovered T cell immunity specific to SARS-CoV-2 in recovered Covid-19 & SARS patients, and also in uninfected individuals. The study is published in Nature.
T cells, along with antibodies, are part of the human immune response against viral infections. The T cells directly target and kill infected cells. 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, the researchers said.
They inferred that infection and exposure to coronaviruses induces 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.
— Source: Duke-NUS Medical School