Interviewer: Hello Professor Klenerman,
thank you for taking the time to do this
update interview after your last
interview recorded with us last month.
What are some of the key
points of knowledge that
we now know about how the immune system
responds to the SARS-CoV-2 virus?
Prof. Klenerman: Lots of
work has been done, and
things are emerging in the literature
often in pre-print format (so they haven't
been formally peer-reviewed), but you get
a glimpse of what people are thinking.
I think the biggest change since we first
spoke has been the development of antibody
tests, I know these have been in the news
a lot with some doom and gloom about them,
but underneath all that there's
been a massive amount of progress.
The development of an antibody
test tells you a couple of things.
One is: what is the quality of the
antibody response against this virus and
how does that relate to disease and
The other is more general: who has been
exposed to this virus, how far it has
spread through the community and
if you've set up the right sort of study.
The first thing that happened, and it all
happened very fast, was the development of
these lateral-flow assays, or
stick tests, that have been tested.
The problem with those is that although
they are reasonably specific for
whether you have or haven't had COVID-19,
they're not very sensitive,
and not really good enough generally
to be used for diagnostic purposes.
If you are positive on one of those, it's
pretty likely you have been exposed to
the virus, but if you're negative,
you could well have been exposed and
it just misses that, so
the sensitivity is not fantastically high.
The only reason we know that is because
there are much better tests that work in