When the immune system fights viruses, timing is key. And this maxim may be especially true for its defense against the deadly severe form of COVID-19.

Several new studies of immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, suggest timing could be critical for a class of proteins known as interferons, which are being researched as potential treatments. These immune proteins suppress viral replication early in disease. Yet if they are active later, some scientists think they can exacerbate the harmful inflammation that forces some COVID-19 patients onto life support. Interferons are “a double-edged sword,” says immunologist Eui-Cheol Shin of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.


Comprehensive analyses of innate and adaptive immune responses during acute COVID-19 infection and convalescence



The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented public health crisis. At present, our narrow understanding of the immune system’s response to the infection limits our capacity to prevent and treat severe disease. As part of the efforts outlined in the NIAID Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research, NIAID researchers are spearheading a large, international collaboration to unveil the innate and adaptive immune responses during acute COVID-19 infection and convalescence. Each researcher will contribute their unique expertise to collectively elucidate the innate and adaptive immune response to COVID-19 infection. This synergistic coalition of researchers will work closely and share data to maximize the impact of patient samples. The overall goal is to identify immunological and virological correlates and predictors of clinical outcomes.