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Issue 136 Summer 2020

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SARS-CoV-2 infection protects against rechallenge in rhesus macaques

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Understanding protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2) infection is critical for developing vaccine and public health strategies aimed at ending the global COVID-19 pandemic. One key unanswered question is whether SARS-CoV-2 infection confers protective immunity against re-exposure. The study by Chandrashekar et al. (published in Science) developed a rhesus macaque model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Nine adult rhesus macaques were inoculated via intranasal and intratracheal routes with SARS-CoV-2, which resulted in a detectable viral load in bronchoalveolar lavage and nasal swabs and acute interstitial pneumonia. Following initial viral clearance, animals were rechallenged with SARS-CoV-2, which resulted in lower viral loads than those detected with the primary infection. These promising results in a non-human primate model highlight the potential for protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2. However, the authors caution that SARS-CoV-2 infection in rhesus macaques is less severe than in humans, and that additional research will be required to assess the durability of natural immunity.

Read the full article in Science doi:10.1126/science.abc4776

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