I'm interested in better understanding this Nature publication, discussing the potential for Covid to infect t-cells.

After describing the results they conclude:

"Based on the results of pseudovirus and live virus infection, here we proved that (1) SARS-CoV-2 could infect T cells, (2) SARS-CoV-2 infected T cells through receptor-dependent, S protein-mediated membrane fusion, and (3) infection could be inhibited by EK1 peptide."

Is this big news? I am not an expert but I believe that HIV's special trait is it's ability to infect CD4+ T cells. If this virus has this ability, does it mean it will have long-term effects like lymphocytopenia, which occurs in HIV?

  • $\begingroup$ Cell-cell fusion means it can probably infect and even replicate inside any kind of cell? But this is probably a minor target compared to type II cells. In the paper they obtained significant virus entry and cell-cell fusion but not significant replication inside their T-cell line. It might explain partially some of the pathogenic effect in particular if the virus induces apoptosis or just cytokine release in immunity cells. $\endgroup$
    – reuns
    Apr 10, 2020 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


As referenced the publication you shared, other human corona viruses also infect, but do not replicate in T cells, so it's not "Big News" in the sense of being a novel or unexpected finding. This also differs from HIV, which actively replicates in CD4+ T Cells. However, it does seem like CoV-2 patients have reduced T-cells after recovery, and that reduced lymphocyte levels during infection are associated with greater risk of mortality from COVID-19.

It doesn't seem like there's any evidence in the literature for long-term lymphocytopenia in recovered SARS and MERS patients, but it's still too early make any strong conclusions about long-term effects from the current outbreak.

  • $\begingroup$ So, the T-Cell is susceptible, but not permissive? $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2020 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ Now 20 months later are there any newer results? $\endgroup$ Dec 20, 2021 at 23:58

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