Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and their potential for therapeutic passive immunization

Elife. 2020 Jun 23;9:e57877. doi: 10.7554/eLife.57877.


We review aspects of the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The topics we cover are relevant to immunotherapy with plasma from recovered patients, monoclonal antibodies against the viral S-protein, and soluble forms of the receptor for the virus, angiotensin converting enzyme 2. The development of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, an essential public health tool, will also be informed by an understanding of the antibody response in infected patients. Although virus-neutralizing antibodies are likely to protect, antibodies could potentially trigger immunopathogenic events in SARS-CoV-2-infected patients or enhance infection. An awareness of these possibilities may benefit clinicians and the developers of antibody-based therapies and vaccines.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; antibodies; infectious disease; microbiology; plasma; therapy; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology
  • Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies / immunology
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • SARS Virus / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus / chemistry


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies
  • Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19 serotherapy