PerspectiveCoronavirus

Remembering seasonal coronaviruses

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Science  11 Dec 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6522, pp. 1272-1273
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf4860

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Summary

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has differential effects according to age, with symptomatic and severe infections mostly occurring in older adults. One possible explanation for this variation is that children and younger adults have more preexisting immunity against seasonal human coronaviruses (HCoVs) that cross-react with SARS-CoV-2, providing protection from severe and even symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Consistently, SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells against the spike protein, the major surface protein of coronaviruses, have been reported in unexposed individuals (1, 2). Whether humoral immunity (antibodies and memory B cells) against SARS-CoV-2 cross-reacts with seasonal HCoVs is now emerging. On page 1339 of this issue, Ng et al. (3) and Shrock et al. (4) reveal that individuals exposed and unexposed to SARS-CoV-2 have cross-reactive serum antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and seasonal HCoVs.

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