Novel Korean Study Indicates SARS-CoV-2 Immune-based Cells Continue Post 10 Months

Novel Korean Study Indicates SARS-CoV-2 Immune-based Cells Continue Post 10 Months

Researchers out of Korea have identified in a study that a person’s protective immune memory T cells generated while recovering from a COVID-19 infection lasts over ten (10) months. The study is purportedly the world’s first one to investigate the development of stem-cell-like memory cells related to the novel coronavirus. The immune cells that develop post recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection were evaluated by Professors Shin Eui-chul at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering and Choi Won-seok at Korean University Ansan Hospital. Jung Hye-won at Chungbuk National University Hospital led the study.

The Background

While many suspected that memory T-cells as well as neutralizing antibodies form the basis of COVID-19 protective immunity, researchers haven’t been clear on what the sustainability of memory T cells is. Thus, in this study, the research team conducted a follow-up study after 10 months in subjects recovering from the coronavirus in Korea.

The Study

In this study, reported in KAIST News, the investigators employed the most advanced immunology research methods to analyze the characteristics and maintenance period of memory T cells as well as stem-cell-like cells and multifunctional memory T cells.

The Results

The group confirmed that in most patients, regardless of the severity of the underlying coronavirus infection, they continue to produce memory T cells. They noted even after 10 months that if the memory T-cell interfaces with the COVID-19 virus antigen that they interact, multiply, and trigger protective immune functions, activating multifunctional  T cells in parallel.

Interestingly, and what looks to be novel findings, the Korean research group noted that patients that recovered from COVID-19 actually developed stem cell-like memory T cells, which also possess a regenerative function bolstering memory T cells for a much longer duration.

Investigator Point of View

“As the world’s longest-running study of memory T cell function and characteristics in patients recovering from COVID-19, the study is meaningful in that it has laid the foundation for designing a next-generation vaccine development strategy through time-dependent protective immunity analysis,” Professors Shin said.

As it turns out, “This study is the world’s longest longitudinal study on differentiation and functions of memory T cells among COVID-19 convalescent patients. The research on the temporal dynamics of immune responses has laid the groundwork for building a strategy for next-generation vaccine development,” Professor Shin added. This work was supported by the Samsung Science and Technology Foundation and KAIST, and was published in Nature Communications on June 30.

Lead Research/Investigator

  • Professor Shin Eui-chul at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering
  • Choi Won-seok at Korean University Ansan Hospital
  • Jung Hye-won at Chungbuk National University Hospital

Call to Action:  The Korean group will investigate how the memory T cell formation works in those currently vaccinated as well as compare memory T cells with those who have recovered naturally from COVID-19.


  1. 1. Can anyone please respond with a download link for Professor Shin Eui-chul paper that was published in Nature Communications on June 30. I can’t seem to access if. Don’t know if it is barred from “open access”.

    I’ve already had Covid -19 but need to prove my “level of immunity” as they are pushing for exclusions out of the workplace with risk of being layed of if one isn’t vaccinated in the sector I work in.

    2. Can trialsitenews perhaps update the general format of all their news articles withe a dedicated block segment of download links or reference links below the article.

    This will make the site allot more relatable and user friendly for updates access without the need to edit the original article.

    Thank you

  2. Here’s the link to the paper if anyone is interested in it.
    Appreciate if similar direct links can be posted in TrialSite News articles when writing about new research papers. Thanks.
    Jung, J.H., Rha, MS., Sa, M. et al. SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell memory is sustained in COVID-19 convalescent patients for 10 months with successful development of stem cell-like memory T cells. Nat Commun 12, 4043 (2021).