Publication date: Sep 19, 2023
Indigenous peoples globally are at increased risk of COVID-19-associated morbidity and mortality. However, data that describe immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection in Indigenous populations are lacking. We evaluated immune responses in Australian First Nations peoples hospitalized with COVID-19. Our work comprehensively mapped out inflammatory, humoral and adaptive immune responses following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Patients were recruited early following the lifting of strict public health measures in the Northern Territory, Australia, between November 2021 and May 2022. Australian First Nations peoples recovering from COVID-19 showed increased levels of MCP-1 and IL-8 cytokines, IgG-antibodies against Delta-RBD and memory SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses prior to hospital discharge in comparison with hospital admission, with resolution of hyperactivated HLA-DR CD38 T cells. SARS-CoV-2 infection elicited coordinated ASC, Tfh and CD8 T cell responses in concert with CD4 T cell responses. Delta and Omicron RBD-IgG, as well as Ancestral N-IgG antibodies, strongly correlated with Ancestral RBD-IgG antibodies and Spike-specific memory B cells. We provide evidence of broad and robust immune responses following SARS-CoV-2 infection in Indigenous peoples, resembling those of non-Indigenous COVID-19 hospitalized patients.