Infections with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and vaccinations targeting the spike protein (S) offer protective immunity against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This immunity may further be shaped by cross-reactivity with common cold coronaviruses. Mutations arising in S that are associated with altered intrinsic virus properties and immune escape result in the continued circulation of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Potentially, vaccine updates will be required to protect against future variants of concern, as for influenza. To offer potent protection against future variants, these second-generation vaccines may need to redirect immunity to epitopes associated with immune escape and not merely boost immunity toward conserved domains in preimmune individuals. For influenza, efficacy of repeated vaccination is hampered by original antigenic sin, an attribute of immune memory that leads to greater induction of antibodies specific to the first-encountered variant of an immunogen compared with subsequent variants. In this Review, recent findings on original antigenic sin are discussed in the context of SARS-CoV-2 evolution. Unanswered questions and future directions are highlighted, with an emphasis on the impact on disease outcome and vaccine design.


Muriel Aguilar-Bretones, Ron A.M. Fouchier, Marion P.G. Koopmans, Gijsbert P. van Nierop


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