Some studies suggest that recent common coronavirus (CCV) infections are associated with reduced COVID-19 severity upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. We completed serological assays using samples collected from health care workers to identify antibody types associated with SARS-CoV-2 protection and COVID-19 symptom duration. Rare SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive antibodies elicited by past CCV infections were not associated with protection; however, the duration of symptoms following SARS-CoV-2 infections was significantly reduced in individuals with higher common betacoronavirus (βCoV) antibody titers. Since antibody titers decline over time after CCV infections, individuals in our cohort with higher βCoV antibody titers were more likely recently infected with common βCoVs compared with individuals with lower antibody titers. Therefore, our data suggest that recent βCoV infections potentially limit the duration of symptoms following SARS-CoV-2 infections through mechanisms that do not involve cross-reactive antibodies. Our data are consistent with the emerging hypothesis that cellular immune responses elicited by recent common βCoV infections transiently reduce symptom duration following SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Sigrid Gouma, Madison E. Weirick, Marcus J. Bolton, Claudia P. Arevalo, Eileen C. Goodwin, Elizabeth M. Anderson, Christopher M. McAllister, Shannon R. Christensen, Debora Dunbar, Danielle Fiore, Amanda Brock, JoEllen Weaver, John Millar, Stephanie DerOhannessian, The UPenn COVID Processing Unit, Ian Frank, Daniel J. Rader, E. John Wherry, Scott E. Hensley