Host immune responses to SARS-CoV-2: correlating kinetics with the natural history of infection 


Francis Ndungu, EDCTP Senior Fellow  

Project Description:

The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak is a global health emergency causing a high number of deaths and illnesses, as well as a huge economic devastation. There are currently no approved drugs for treating Covid-19. Although effective preventative Covid-19 vaccines are now available, their use in disease control is faced with some challenges including the evolution of new Sars-CoV-2 variants, vaccine hesitancy, and inadequate supplies and especially in poor countries. Furthermore, it is unclear how long the vaccine induced immunity will last in different subgroups of the global population, and especially among the immunocompromised.  

In ImmunoCoV, we seek to understand how the human body responds to Sars-CoV-2 infection (the Coronavirus causing Covid-19), and whether these immune responses determine why some individuals become severely sick, while others only get mild disease or remain asymptomatic. Understanding the various roles of antibodies and the other body defence processes in the control of the coronavirus infection and Covid-19 disease will be important for the development of antibody-based drugs, among others, and for optimising preventative vaccination.  This study is also generating the much-needed data on the kinetics of the immune response to Sars-CoV-2 in the African population, which will further inform the interpretation of sero-epidemiological studies modelling Sars-CoV-2 transmission that guide government policies on disease control.   



Isabella Oyier, Eunice Nduati, George Warimwe, Abdirahman Abdi, Charles Sande, Agnes Gwela, Samson Kinyanjui 


  • Reena Shah and Shaheen Sayed, Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi  
  • Anna Farnert and Anna Smed Sörensen, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden   
  • Bartek Makower and Peter Jahnmatz, Mabtech AB, Stockholm, Sweden 
  • Tom Ottenhoff, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands 
  • David Anderson, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia  


This project (RIA2020EF-3042) is part of the EDCTP2 program supported by the European Union.