Recent endemic coronavirus infection is associated with less severe COVID-19

J Clin Invest. 2020 Sep 30;143380. doi: 10.1172/JCI143380. Online ahead of print.


Four different endemic coronaviruses (eCoVs) are etiologic agents for the seasonal "common cold," and these eCoVs share extensive sequence homology with human severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Here, we show that individuals with as compared to without a relatively recent documented eCoV were tested at greater frequency for respiratory infections but had similar rate of SARS-CoV-2 acquisition. Importantly, the patients with a previously detected eCoV had less severe coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) illness. Our observations suggest that pre-existing immune responses against endemic human coronaviruses can mitigate disease manifestations from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Keywords: Adaptive immunity; COVID-19; Cellular immune response.