Virology, Nebraska Center for
High prevalence of pre-existing serological cross-reactivity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in sub-Saharan Africa
Date of this Version
International Journal of Infectious Diseases 102 (2021) 577–583
Objective: Significant morbidity and mortality have occurred in the USA, Europe, and Asia due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), whereas the numbers of infections and deaths in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have remained comparatively low. It has been hypothesized that exposure of the population in SSA to other coronaviruses prior to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in some degree of cross-protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection and pathogenesis. We evaluated this hypothesis by comparing SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive antibodies in pre-pandemic plasma samples collected from SSA and the USA.
Method: Pre-COVID-19 pandemic plasma samples from SSA and the USA were collected and tested by immunofluorescence assay against the spike and nucleocapsid proteins of all known human coronaviruses (HCoVs).
Results: The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 serological cross-reactivity was significantly higher in samples from SSA compared with the USA. Most of these cross-reactive samples cross-recognized the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein and the spike proteins of other HCoVs. Nucleocapsid proteins from HCoV-NL63 and HCoV-229E were detected in most samples, thereby implicating prior exposure to these two HCoVs as the likely source of cross-reactive antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
Conclusion: The low incidences of SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease in SSA appear to be correlated with the pre-pandemic serological cross-recognition of HCoVs, which are substantially more prevalent in SSA than the USA.
Biological Phenomena, Cell Phenomena, and Immunity Commons, Cell and Developmental Biology Commons, Genetics and Genomics Commons, Infectious Disease Commons, Medical Immunology Commons, Medical Pathology Commons, Virology Commons
© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of International Society for Infectious Diseases. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license