Even the sickest COVID-19 patients produce T cells to fight the virus, a new study shows.
The study, published in Science Immunology, provides further evidence that any vaccine against the deadly virus must bring T cells to work with antibodies.
“This is key to understanding how the immune response fights the virus,” said Alessandro Sette, a professor at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology, who co-led the study, in a statement. “They want vaccination approaches to be based on observations from very different environments to ensure that the results are generally applicable.”
The researchers followed 10 COVID-19 patients with very severe symptoms. All of them were brought to the intensive care unit and ventilated as part of their care. Two eventually died of the disease.
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Upon closer examination of their immune responses, it became clear that all 10 patients produced T cells targeting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The T cells worked hand in hand with antibodies to stop the infections.
“The activation of these cells appears to be at least as important as the production of antibodies,” said Erasmus MC virologist Rory de Vries, who co-led the study.
As of Friday afternoon, there were more than 2.7 million infections and at least 129,114 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States.