Fighting the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic requires a global approach to understanding the heterogeneity of vaccine responses

Nat Immunol. 2022 Mar;23(3):360-370. doi: 10.1038/s41590-022-01130-4. Epub 2022 Feb 24.


Host genetic and environmental factors including age, biological sex, diet, geographical location, microbiome composition and metabolites converge to influence innate and adaptive immune responses to vaccines. Failure to understand and account for these factors when investigating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine efficacy may impair the development of the next generation of vaccines. Most studies aimed at identifying mechanisms of vaccine-mediated immune protection have focused on adaptive immune responses. It is well established, however, that mobilization of the innate immune response is essential to the development of effective cellular and humoral immunity. A comprehensive understanding of the innate immune response and environmental factors that contribute to the development of broad and durable cellular and humoral immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 and other vaccines requires a holistic and unbiased approach. Along with optimization of the immunogen and vectors, the development of adjuvants based on our evolving understanding of how the innate immune system shapes vaccine responses will be essential. Defining the innate immune mechanisms underlying the establishment of long-lived plasma cells and memory T cells could lead to a universal vaccine for coronaviruses, a key biomedical priority.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Biological Variation, Population*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology*
  • Global Health
  • Host Microbial Interactions / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunogenicity, Vaccine
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Microbiota / immunology
  • Pandemics
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Vaccination


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19 Vaccines