Endemic coronavirus infections are associated with strong homotypic immunity in a US cohort of children from birth to 4 years.

Publication date: Mar 05, 2024

The endemic coronaviruses OC43, HKU1, NL63 and 229E cause cold-like symptoms and are related to SARS-CoV-2, but their natural histories are poorly understood. In a cohort of children followed from birth to 4 years, we documented all coronavirus infections, including SARS-CoV-2, to understand protection against subsequent infections with the same virus (homotypic immunity) or a different coronavirus (heterotypic immunity). Mother-child pairs were enrolled in metropolitan Cincinnati during the third trimester of pregnancy in 2017-18. Mothers reported their child’s socio-demographics, risk factors, and weekly symptoms. Mid-turbinate nasal swabs were collected weekly. Blood was collected at 6 weeks, 6, 12, 18, 24 months and annually thereafter. Infections were detected by testing nasal swabs by an RT-PCR multi-pathogen panel and by serum IgG responses. Health care visits were documented from pediatric records. Analysis was limited to 116 children with high sample adherence. Re-consent for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 infections from June 2020 through November 2021 was obtained for 74 (64%) children. We detected 345 endemic coronavirus infections (1. 1 infections/child-year) and 21 SARS-CoV-2 infections (0. 3 infections/child-year). Endemic coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2 infections were asymptomatic or mild. Significant protective homotypic immunity occurred after a single infection with OC43 (77%) and HKU1 (84%), and after two infections with NL63 (73%). No heterotypic protection against endemic coronaviruses or SARS-CoV-2 was identified. Natural coronavirus infections were common and resulted in strong homotypic immunity but not heterotypic immunity against other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Endemic coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2 infections in this US cohort were typically asymptomatic or mild.

Concepts Keywords
Coronaviruses 229E
Mothers birth cohort
Pcr endemic coronaviruses
Weekly HKU1
natural history
preventive efficacy


Type Source Name
disease MESH coronavirus infections
disease MESH infections
disease IDO blood
disease IDO pathogen
disease MESH SARS-CoV-2 infections
disease IDO infection
disease IDO history

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