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, et al.
Ending the COVID-19 pandemic will require long-lived immunity to SARS-CoV-2. We evaluated 254 COVID-19 patients longitudinally from early infection and for eight months thereafter and found a predominant broad-based immune memory response. SARS-CoV-2 spike binding and neutralizing antibodies exhibited a bi-phasic decay with an extended half-life of >200 days suggesting the generation of longer-lived plasma cells. In addition, there was a sustained IgG+ memory B cell response, which bodes well for a rapid antibody response upon virus re-exposure. Polyfunctional virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were also generated and maintained with an estimated half-life of 200 days. Interestingly, the CD4+ T cell response equally targeted several SARS-CoV-2 proteins, whereas the CD8+ T cell response preferentially targeted the nucleoprotein, highlighting the importance of including the nucleoprotein as a potential vaccine antigen. Taken together, these results suggest that broad and effective immunity may persist long-term in recovered COVID-19 patients.