Immunity from One Coronavirus Could Provide Protection against Others

  • Author: ChemistryViews
  • Published: 22 October 2021
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH GmbH
thumbnail image: Immunity from One Coronavirus Could Provide Protection against Others

If you get exposed to one coronavirus, could it provide cross-protection against other coronaviruses? Three main families of coronaviruses that cause human disease are Sarbecovirus, which includes the strain that is responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for COVID-19, Embecovirus, which includes OC43, often responsible for the common cold, and Merbecovirus, which includes the virus responsible for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).


Justin Richner, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA, Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA, and colleagues have investigated whether vaccines and coronavirus infections can cause cross-reactive and cross-protective immunity against other coronaviruses. The team first measured antibody responses following vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2 in humans. They found that plasma from vaccinated individuals contained antibodies that were cross-reactive against SARS-CoV-1 and the common cold coronavirus OC43.


In addition, mice immunized with a SARS-CoV-1 vaccine generated immune responses that protected them from intranasal exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Mice that had been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines and later were exposed to the coronavirus OC43 were only partially protected. This could be because SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 are genetically fairly similar, while OC43 is more divergent from SARS-CoV-2.


Prior coronavirus infections could also protect against subsequent infections with other coronaviruses in mice. The team found, for example, that an OC43 infection elicited cross-reactive antibodies against, e.g., SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1. Overall, the work indicates that coronavirus vaccines and prior coronavirus infections could confer broader protection against different coronaviruses. This could help, e.g., with the early response to another coronavirus pandemic.



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