Majority of population likely has pre-existing immunity to SARS-CoV-2, claim researchers

A team of researchers has conducted a study suggesting that the majority of the global population is likely to have pre-existing T-cell immunity to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the agent responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The team – from the United States and India – says many people who have not yet been exposed to the virus probably already have SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells as a result of previous exposure to viruses such as influenza and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

The researchers say the study demonstrates that strong immunity among unexposed individuals can arise through cross-reactive T cell receptors (TCRs) against common CMV and influenza antigens that mount an early CD8 T-cell response to clear SARS-CoV-2.

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