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The T cell memory response is a crucial component of adaptive immunity responsible for limiting or preventing viral reinfection. T cell memory after infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus or vaccination is broad, and spans multiple viral proteins and epitopes, about 20 in each individual. So far the T cell memory response is long lasting and provides a high level of cross reactivity and hence resistance to viral escape by variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, such as the omicron variant. All current vaccine regimens tested produce robust T cell memory responses, and heterologous regimens will probably enhance protective responses through increased breadth. T cell memory could have a major role in protecting against severe covid-19 disease through rapid viral clearance and early presentation of epitopes, and the presence of cross reactive T cells might enhance this protection. T cell memory is likely to provide ongoing protection against admission to hospital and death, and the development of a pan-coronovirus vaccine might future proof against new pandemic strains.

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COVID-19, Covid-19, Immunology, Respiratory tract infections