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BACKGROUND: The longitudinal antigen-specific immunity in COVID-19 convalescents is crucial for long-term protection upon individual re-exposure to SARS-CoV-2, and even more pivotal for ultimately achieving population-level immunity. To better understand the features of immune memory in individuals with different disease severities at one year post-disease onset we conducted this cohort study. METHODS: We conducted a systematic antigen-specific immune evaluation in 101 COVID-19 convalescents, who had asymptomatic, mild, moderate, or severe disease, through two visits at months 6 and 12 post-disease onset. The SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies, comprising NAb, IgG, and IgM, were assessed by mutually corroborated assays, i.e. neutralization, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and microparticle chemiluminescence immunoassay (MCLIA). Meanwhile, the T-cell memory against SARS-CoV-2 spike, membrane and nucleocapsid proteins was tested through enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISpot), intracellular cytokine staining (ICS), and tetramer staining-based flow cytometry, respectively. RESULTS: SARS-CoV-2-specific IgG antibodies, and also NAb can persist among over 95% COVID-19 convalescents from 6 months to 12 months after disease onset. At least 19/71 (26%) of COVID-19 convalescents (double positive in ELISA and MCLIA) had detectable circulating IgM antibody against SARS-CoV-2 at 12m post-disease onset. Notably, the percentages of convalescents with positive SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses (at least one of the SARS-CoV-2 antigen S1, S2, M and N protein) were 71/76 (93%) and 67/73 (92%) at 6m and 12m, respectively. Furthermore, both antibody and T-cell memory levels of the convalescents were positively associated with their disease severity. CONCLUSIONS: SARS-CoV-2-specific cellular and humoral immunities are durable at least until one year after disease onset.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/cid/ciab884

Type

Journal article

Journal

Clin Infect Dis

Publication Date

05/10/2021

Keywords

COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, T cells, disease severity, neutralizing antibody