Lyle McKinnon of the University of Manitoba in Canada will test whether a specific type of immune cell known as tissue resident memory T cells, which are found in the nasal cavity during SARS-CoV-2 infection, help limit disease severity and viral replication. The nasal mucosa is the first place in the body that is exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, little is known about the local immune response and how this may influence disease progression, which varies dramatically between people. They have developed a nasal sampling protocol and will use it to characterize nasal T cells from COVID-19 positive patients in three sites in Winnipeg, Canada, and Nairobi, Kenya, to see if it correlates with clinical outcomes. They will also compare the activation of these nasal tissue T cells in uninfected individuals before and after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination to determine their role in vaccination-mediated immunity.
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