Immune Netw.  2021 Feb;21(1):e2. 10.4110/in.2021.21.e2.

SARS-CoV-2-Specific T Cell Responses in Patients with COVID-19 and Unexposed Individuals

  • 1Laboratory of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea
  • 2The Center for Epidemic Preparedness, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon 34141, Korea


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an ongoing pandemic disease. In the current review, we describe SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 + and CD8 + T-cell responses in acute and convalescent COVID-19 patients. We also discuss the relationships between COVID-19 severity and SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses and summarize recent reports regarding SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells in SARS-CoV-2-unexposed individuals. These T cells may be cross-reactive cells primed by previous infection with human common-cold coronaviruses. Finally, we outline SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses in the context of vaccination. A better understanding of SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses is needed to develop effective vaccines and therapeutics.


SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; T cell
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