Australian scientists map the immune response to COVID-19
18 March 2020
Australian scientists have mapped the immune system’s response in a woman with COVID-19, identifying the type of immune cells mobilised to fight the infection.
The 47-year-old woman from Wuhan, China was hospitalised in Australia, where scientists monitored her immune response to the infection.
Her first symptoms were tiredness, sore throat, dry cough, chest pain and mild shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 on admission to hospital.
The scientists identified the specific types of immune cells emerging in her bloodstream 3 days before her symptoms improved. These are the same cells that appear in people recovering from influenza. She did not have severe symptoms and was discharged from hospital within a week.
Knowing which immune system cells emerge before recovery may help doctors predict where a patient is in the infection timeline and whether they are recovering. It also provides information that should be very useful in developing potential treatments or vaccines.
The challenge now is to also understand what is missing or failing in people who do not recover. Further research is needed on people with differing severity of COVID-19 to see if these types of immune system cells can be used to predict the outcome of the disease and so identify which patients might have more severe disease.
Last Reviewed: 18/03/2020
Thevarajan I, Nguyen THO, Koutsakos M, et al. Breadth of concomitant immune responses prior to patient recovery: a case report of non-severe COVID-19. [Correspondence]. Nature Medicine Published online 16 March 2020. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0819-2
Australian scientists working on COVID-19 immunity test
Australian scientists are working on an immunity test for COVID-19 that could predict how severe a person's symptoms might be.
Highlights from the latest research into COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2.
Novel coronavirus - COVID-19
Symptoms of COVID-19, caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Find out how to protect yourself.
HIV and AIDS: 12 common questions answered
How does HIV lead to AIDS? Is there an HIV vaccine? How can you avoid HIV infection? Find answers to common questions about HIV.
Vaccination and antibodies
See how vaccines prepare your immune system to fight disease by taking advantage of the fact that the immune system can remember infectious organisms.