Small study in Singapore appears to show that COVID-19 vaccines induce potent immune response in people who had been infected with the SARS virus


People who were infected nearly two decades ago with the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) appear to generate a potent antibody response after being vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a recent publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, which reports results of a study that analyzed the immune response of eight participants in Singapore who had recovered from SARS nearly two decades ago and who were vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. These participants were found to produce elevated levels of neutralizing antibodies against both viruses, even after a single dose of the vaccine. 

They also produced a broad spectrum of neutralizing antibodies against three worrisome variants of SARS-CoV-2 prevalent in the current pandemic — Alpha, Beta, and Delta — and five bat and pangolin sarbecoviruses. No similarly potent and wide-ranging antibody response has been seen in blood samples taken from other fully vaccinated individuals, even those who had also contracted COVID-19.


Decades-old SARS virus infection triggers potent response to COVID vaccines. Nature.

Tan C-W, Chia W-N, Young BE, Zhu F, et al. Pan-Sarbecovirus Neutralizing Antibodies in BNT162b2-Immunized SARS-CoV-1 Survivors. 2021/08/18. New England Journal of Medicine.

  • Share: