COVID-19 infection: the perspectives on immune responses.

Cell death and differentiation. 2020;27(5):1451-1454

Plain language summary

The SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers an immune response which varies greatly from one person to another. It can be roughly divided into three stages: stage I, an asymptomatic incubation period with or without detectable virus; stage II, non-severe symptomatic period with the presence of virus; stage III, severe respiratory symptomatic stage with high viral load. Currently around 15% of people infected end up in severe stage III. There appears to be a two-phase immune response; an early protective phase and a second inflammation-driven damaging phase. In phase one the adaptive immune system responds to the virus. Being in good general health is important in this phase to limiting the progression of the disease to a more severe stage. In phase two the innate immune system response to tissue damage caused by the virus could lead to widespread inflammation of the lungs and acute respiratory distress syndrome or respiratory failure. Therapeutically this raises the question of whether the immune response should be boosted in phase one and suppressed in phase two. There also appears to be an element of viral relapse in some patients discharged from hospital indicating that a virus-eliminating immune response may be difficult to achieve naturally. These same patients may also not respond to vaccines. Overall, it is still unclear why some people develop severe disease, whilst others do not. Overall immunity alone does not explain the differences in disease presentation.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Antecedents/Covid-19/immune system
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Not applicable
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable
Bioactive Substances : Virus ; Covid-19

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Immune system ; Adaptive immune system ; Innate immune system