Death by COVID: 5 immune response markers that predict whether an infected person is likely to survive

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[Researchers] have identified five immune response markers that, collectively, were able to distinguish between those COVID-19 patients who convalesced from the infection, and those who didn’t survive the disease. The researchers used a systems serology technique to generate a detailed profile of SARS-Co-2-specific humoral—antibody generating—responses in hospitalized patients, which they validated in a second patient cohort. The findings indicated that individuals who survived COVID-19 infection and those who died exhibited antibody responses that were primarily directed against different SARS-CoV-2 proteins.

“By looking at the overall profile of the immune response, we can begin to truly understand how the immune system responds to COVID-19 and then use that knowledge to prevent the worst outcomes of this disease,” [said researcher Galit Alter.]

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It’s still not clear why some individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 recover from infection and others die, the authors noted. “While the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, even during the asymptomatic phase of this infection, is alarming, more harrowing is our inability to predict disease trajectories among symptomatic individuals.” And without any therapeutics or vaccines as countermeasures, there is “an urgent need” to start mapping how immunity to the virus starts to develop. This knowledge will not only help to guide patient care, but could help to direct the development of future immune-based strategies against the disorder.

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