A 1-year longitudinal study on COVID-19 convalescents reveals persistence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 humoral and cellular immunity

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2022 Dec;11(1):902-913. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2022.2049984.


The immune memory of over 400 million COVID-19 convalescents is not completely understood. In this integrated study, we recorded the post-acute sequelae symptoms and tested the immune memories, including circulating antibodies, memory B cell, and memory CD4 or CD8 T cell responses of a cohort of 65 COVID-19 patients over 1-year after infection. Our data show that 48% of them still have one or more sequelae symptoms and all of them maintain at least one of the immune components. The chances of having sequelae symptoms or having better immune memory are associated with peak disease severity. We did four-time points sampling per subject to precisely understand the kinetics of durability of SARS-CoV-2 circulating antibodies. We found that the RBD IgG levels likely reach a stable plateau at around 6 months, albeit it is waning at the first 6 months after infection. At 1-year after infection, more than 90% of the convalescents generated memory CD4 or CD8 T memory responses, preferably against the SARS-CoV-2 M peptide pool. The convalescents also have polyfunctional and central memory T cells that could provide rapid and efficient response to SARS-CoV-2 re-infection. Based on this information, we assessed the immune protection against the Omicron variant and concluded that convalescents should still induce effective T cell immunity against the Omicron. By studying the circulating antibodies and memory B or T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 in an integrated manner, our study provides insight into the understanding of protective immunity against diseases caused by secondary SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Keywords: 1-year after infection; COVID-19 convalescent; SARS-CoV-2; T cell response; antibody durability.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antibodies, Viral

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China [excellent scholars grant numbers 81822028 to PZ].