Audio Interview

The immune system response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus: an update

Published on April 27, 2020   13 min

Other Talks in the Series: Research and Clinical Interviews

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 protection? 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

The immune system response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus: an update

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