Healthcare Worker T Cell Recall

Study code

Lead researcher
Dr James Thaventhiran

Study type
Participant re-contact

Institution or company
Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Researcher type

Speciality area
Infection, COVID


The risk of contracting COVID19 and the severity of disease is multifactorial. The ability of individuals to generate an immune response to infection with SARS CoV2 is one of these many factors that influence the outcome of each individual case. 

Immunity, or the immune response that is generated in response to a viral infection includes the ability to make a antibodies and lymphocytes that are specific to the virus.  In the simplest assessment, antibodies prevent viral infection and lymphocytes play a key role in clearing a virus from infected cells.  Measuring antibodies is  standard diagnostic test to see if an individual has been exposed to a given virus or  responded to a vaccine.  Measuring specific T cells in the context of SARS CoV2 may have the potential to be used in a similar way and could give insights into the extreme inflammation observed in acute respiratory distress syndrome occurring in a proportion of patients.  

A large-scale study by a collaborating team investigating the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (The virus that causes COVID-19) in healthcare workers (HCW) has identified a number of individuals with antibodies specific for SARS CoV2.   Factors such as age, body mass index, gender and ethnicity appear to play a role in the risk and severity of SARS-COV-2 infection, however the mechanisms behind this are not currently known.

Participation: For this study, blood samples from 70 COVID-19 BioResource volunteers were provided. 

Organisation: This study is organised by Dr James Thaventhiran from the MRC Toxicology Unit, Cambridge.