Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Research Project: Why Does SARS-CoV-2 Rarely Cause Severe Disease in Children?
COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award
Unlike other respiratory viruses, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 causes severe illness and death in the elderly, but only rarely causes severe disease in children. Prior exposure to common cold coronaviruses may result in T cells which can initiate an immune response to SARS-CoV-2. These T cells may not mount a strong response against SARS-CoV-2 and may lead to disrupted antiviral responses. We will study whether children are less likely than adults to have these T cells in the blood and nasal mucosa and hence less likely to develop severe COVID-19. We will examine the age-related differences in the body’s response to SARS-CoV-2. Our research will help define protective responses to SARS-CoV-2, identify biomarkers that predict illness severity, and reveal new therapeutic targets.