A related and much more fatal Coronavirus sowed terror over 20 years before SARS-CoV-2, killing about 10% of the 8000 persons who became afflicted. However, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 may have left some survivors with a gift. Former SARS patients who were vaccinated against COVID-19 appear to be able to fight off all SARS-CoV-2 variants currently in circulation, as well as ones that may emerge shortly, according to a recent study.
Their potent antibodies may also defend against Coronavirus in other species that have yet to infect humans—and may hold the key to developing a pan Coronavirus vaccine to prevent future epidemics. Eight SARS survivors were recently given two doses of a messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine, according to a team lead by emerging disease specialist Linfa Wang from Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.
The discovery of broad spectrum immunity against sarbecoviruses—a subset of Coronavirus that includes the viruses that cause SARS and COVID-19—is “amazing and very good news,” according to Priyamvada Acharya, a structural biologist at Duke University who works on pan Coronavirus vaccine research but was not involved in the new study.Both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infect humans when their surface protein, spike, attaches to the human cellular receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. (ACE2). So Wang was taken aback when other researchers revealed last year that persons who had recovered from SARS had antibodies that could stop SARS-CoV from binding to the ACE2 receptor, but not against SARS-CoV-2.