COVID-19 Vaccines Might Provide Some Protection Against Common Cold Coronaviruses Interview with:

Joel N. Blankson, MD, PhD Department of Infectious Diseases Associate Professor Cellular and Molecular Medicine Program Johns Hopkins

Dr. Blankson

Joel N. Blankson, MD, PhD
Department of Infectious Diseases
Associate Professor
Cellular and Molecular Medicine Program
Johns Hopkins What is the background for this study? Which vaccines did you evaluate?

Response: Prior studies from several groups including our own have found T cell cross-recognition of peptides from SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold coronaviruses.

We asked whether as a result of this cross-reactivity, immunization with the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine would also enhance T cell responses to the common cold coronaviruses.

Prior studies also suggested that antibodies elicited from the mRNA vaccines had a reduced ability to neutralize the emerging variants of concern.

Most of the study participants had received the Pfizer vaccine, but a few had received the Moderna vaccine. What are the main findings? 

Response: We compared T cell responses before and after vaccination and found that there was a marked increase in the CD4+ T cell response to SARS-CoV-2 and also a 3 fold increase in the response to one of the common cold coronaviruses (HCoV-NL63).

We also found that CD4+ T cells responded as well to the spike proteins from 2 variants of concern (B.1.1.7 and B.135.1) as they did to the original Wuhan virus. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our data suggest that these vaccines may provide some protection from the common cold coronaviruses as well as from COVID-19.

Also the data suggest that if a fully vaccinated person is exposed to some of the new variants, our CD4+ T cells may provide some protection from severe disease even if our antibodies do not prevent infection from occurring. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It would be nice to track the rate of common cold coronavirus infections in the future.

We should also carefully study fully vaccinated individuals who become infected to determine whether their T cells recognize the strain of virus they are infected with.

I have no disclosures.


SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines induce broad CD4+ T cell responses that recognize SARS-CoV-2 variants and HCoV-NL63

Bezawit A. Woldemeskel, … , Caroline C. Garliss, Joel N. Blankson

Published April 6, 2021
Citation Information: J Clin Invest. 2021.



The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Last Updated on April 22, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD