Published on Fri Aug 06 2021

Longitudinal analysis shows durable and broad immune memory after SARS-CoV-2 infection with persisting antibody responses and memory B and T cells.

Kristen W Cohen, Susanne L Linderman, Zoe Moodie, Julie Czartoski, Lilin Lai, Grace Mantus, Carson Norwood, Lindsay E Nyhoff, Venkata Viswanadh Edara, Katharine Floyd, Stephen C De Rosa, Hasan Ahmed, Rachael Whaley, Shivan N Patel, Brittany Prigmore, Maria P Lemos, Carl W Davis, Sarah Furth, James O'Keefe, Mohini P Gharpure, Sivaram Gunisetty, Kathy A Stephens, Rustom Antia, Veronika I Zarnitsyna, David S Stephens, Srilatha Edupuganti, Nadine Rouphael, Evan J Anderson, Aneesh K Mehta, Jens Wrammert, Mehul S Suthar, Rafi Ahmed, M Juliana McElrath

SARS-CoV-2 spike binding and neutralizing antibodies exhibit a bi-phasic decay with an extended half-life of >200 days suggesting the generation of longer-lived plasma cells. spike-specific IgG+ memory B cells persist.

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Abstract

Ending the COVID-19 pandemic will require long-lived immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Here, we evaluate 254 COVID-19 patients longitudinally up to eight months and find durable broad-based immune responses. SARS-CoV-2 spike binding and neutralizing antibodies exhibit a bi-phasic decay with an extended half-life of >200 days suggesting the generation of longer-lived plasma cells. SARS-CoV-2 infection also boosts antibody titers to SARS-CoV-1 and common betacoronaviruses. In addition, spike-specific IgG+ memory B cells persist, which bodes well for a rapid antibody response upon virus re-exposure or vaccination. Virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are polyfunctional and maintained with an estimated half-life of 200 days. Interestingly, CD4+ T cell responses equally target several SARS-CoV-2 proteins, whereas the CD8+ T cell responses preferentially target the nucleoprotein, highlighting the potential importance of including the nucleoprotein in future vaccines. Taken together, these results suggest that broad and effective immunity may persist long-term in recovered COVID-19 patients.