Does common cold coronavirus infection protect against severe SARS-CoV-2 disease?

J Clin Invest. 2021 Jan 4;131(1):e144807. doi: 10.1172/JCI144807.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to cause morbidity and mortality. Since SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was identified as the cause for COVID-19, some have questioned whether exposure to seasonal common cold coronaviruses (CCCs) could provide tangible protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection or disease. In this issue of the JCI, Sagar et al. examined SARS-CoV-2 infections and outcomes of patients who had previously tested positive or negative for CCC infection (CCC+ or CCC-) by a comprehensive respiratory panel using PCR. No differences were seen between groups in terms of susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, hospitalized patients with a documented history of CCC infection had lower rates of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and higher rates of survival than hospitalized CCC- patients. While these findings are associative and not causative, they highlight evidence suggesting that previous CCC infection may influence the disease course of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / immunology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Common Cold / epidemiology
  • Common Cold / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*