Recent studies suggest that neutralizing antibodies could serve as a correlate of protection for vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 in humans.

Adaptive humoral and cellular immune responses to infection are typically pathogen specific and protect against future reinfection. In vaccines, science has found a way for humans to acquire these protective immune responses without suffering an initial infection. Vaccine-induced immune responses are often multifaceted, but single components such as antibody responses may correlate with the level of protection. In fact, most of the currently accepted correlates of protection are based on antibody measurements1,2. In many cases they may not be the only correlate of protection, but they are often much easier to measure than cellular responses and are therefore more clinically useful. Notably, correlates may differ depending on the endpoint used, such as protection from infection, from disease, from severe disease or from mortality. Two studies, by Khoury et al.3 (published in this issue of Nature Medicine) and Earle et al.4, now connect neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 with vaccine efficacy and bring researchers and clinicians closer to having a correlate of protection for vaccines against COVID-19.


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