Ever on the forefront of life science, the field of immunology has been dominated by advances in the realm of oncology over the last decade with interludes for the Zika and Ebola epidemics. In 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a frame shift, bringing pathogen-induced immune response and immunity into the spotlight. The topic perhaps most exposed by the pandemic has been the variance in the impact of the virus in different groups, with outcomes separated most clearly by age, sex, ethnic group and pre-existing conditions.
The extent of the role of immune responses in these differing outcomes is yet to be clarified and despite these clear separations, extreme responses, such as the development of cytokine storms, can be erratic and difficult to predict. Meanwhile, questions surrounding the strength and length of immunity resulting from infection – key information for vaccine developers – have also been rife throughout the pandemic.
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