Cross-Protective COVID Immunity: One Coronavirus Vaccine Can Provide Broad Immunity Against Other Coronaviruses

COVID Coronavirus Immunity

Scientists have demonstrated that coronavirus vaccines and prior coronavirus infections can confer broad immunity against other, similar coronaviruses.

Study is the first to demonstrate cross-protective immunity by vaccines.

Northwestern Medicine scientists have shown for the first time that coronavirus vaccines and prior coronavirus infections can provide broad immunity against other, similar coronaviruses. The findings build a rationale for universal coronavirus vaccines that could prove useful in the face of future epidemics.

“Until our study, what hasn’t been clear is if you get exposed to one coronavirus, could you have cross-protection across other coronaviruses? And we showed that is the case,” said lead author Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, assistant professor of microbiology-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The three main families of coronaviruses that cause human disease are:

  • Sarbecovirus, which includes the SARS-CoV-1 strain that was responsible for the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), as well as SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for COVID-19
  • Embecovirus, which includes OC43, which is often responsible for the common cold
  • Merbecovirus, which is the virus responsible for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), first reported in 2012.

Vaccines demonstrated cross-protective immunity

Plasma from humans who had been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 produced antibodies that were cross-reactive (potentially providing protection) against SARS-CoV-1 and the common cold coronavirus (OC43), the study found. The study also found mice immunized with a SARS-CoV-1 vaccine developed in 2004 generated immune responses that protected them from intranasal exposure by SARS-CoV-2. Lastly, the study found prior coronavirus infections can protect against subsequent infections with other coronaviruses.

Mice that had been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines and later were exposed to the common cold coronavirus (HCoV-OC43, which is different from a SARS strain) were partially protected against the common cold, but the protection was much less robust, the study found. The reason, the scientists explain, is because both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 are genetically similar — like cousins of one another — while the common cold coronavirus is more divergent from SARS-CoV-2.

“As long as the coronavirus is greater than 70% related, the mice were protected,” Penaloza-MacMaster said. “If they were exposed to a very different family of coronaviruses, the vaccines might confer less protection.”

Will there ever be one universal coronavirus vaccine?

Given how different each coronavirus family is, that answer is “likely no,” said the study authors. But there may be a path forward for developing a vaccine for each coronavirus family (Sarbecovirus, Embecovirus and Merbecovirus), they said.

“Our study helps us re-evaluate the concept of a universal coronavirus vaccine,” Penaloza-MacMaster said. “It’s likely there isn’t one, but we might end up with a generic vaccine for each of the main families of coronaviruses, for example, a universal Sarbecovirus vaccine for SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2 and other SARS-related coronaviruses; or a universal Embecovirus for HCoV-OC43 and HKU1 that cause common colds.”

In the study, Penaloza-MacMaster collaborated with Northwestern Medicine physician Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious disease and global neurology at Feinberg, and Lavanya Visvabharathy, a postdoctoral research associate in neurological manifestations of COVID-19 at Feinberg, to evaluate immune responses in humans who received SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, as well as in COVID-19 patients admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“We found that these individuals developed antibody responses that neutralized a common cold coronavirus, HCoV-OC43,” Penaloza-MacMaster said. “We are now measuring how long this cross-protection lasts.”

Years of HIV research led the team to this discovery

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penaloza-MacMaster had studied HIV vaccines for a decade. His knowledge about how the HIV virus mutates led him to question cross-reactivity within coronavirus vaccines.

“A reason we don’t have an effective HIV vaccine is because it’s hard to develop cross-reactive antibodies,” Penaloza-MacMaster said. “So, we thought, ‘What if we tackle the problem of coronavirus variability (which is critical for developing universal coronavirus vaccines) the same way we’re tackling HIV vaccine development?’”

Reference: “Cross-protective immunity following coronavirus vaccination and coronavirus infection” by Tanushree Dangi, Nicole Palacio, Sarah Sanchez, Mincheol Park, Jake Class, Lavanya Visvabharathy, Thomas Ciucci, Igor J. Koralnik, Justin M. Richner and Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, 8 October 2021, Journal of Clinical Investigation.
DOI: 10.1172/JCI151969

First co-authors of the study are Tanushree Dangi and Nicole Palacio, both from Penaloza-MacMaster’s lab.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (grant DP2 DA051912-01).

4 Comments on "Cross-Protective COVID Immunity: One Coronavirus Vaccine Can Provide Broad Immunity Against Other Coronaviruses"

  1. LOL… I am afraid the horse is already out of the barn… 🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎

  2. Euphegenia Doubtfire | October 17, 2021 at 4:28 am | Reply

    Are we so sure that all the credits should go to just the vaccines? How is it that natural immunity which predates the use of antibiotics has enabled mankind throughout history to survive diseases of every denomination, all of a sudden has no role at all in helping modern day humans to survive against the darling of the media, Ms. Covid 19? 😆

  3. Howard Jeffrey Bender, Ph.D. | October 17, 2021 at 11:07 am | Reply

    Yes, the vaccines all go after the protein spikes, which all coronaviruses have, and there’s bound to be some positive effects with the other coronaviruses.

    All the coronaviruses and all their variants have different protein spikes, with Delta having one that’s more efficient at getting around the vaccines. But the real problem is in the virus itself, not its protein shell, and why the most dangerous (MERS, SARS, and Covid-19) are so infectious. My independent research has found multiple one-in-a-million nucleotide sequence matches between all the coronaviruses and the human genome. Those sequences are the same as some of the loops of human tRNA. Using those loops and their amino acid code matches, viruses may be able to fool the nucleus membrane in cells to allow the virus to enter and associate with the human DNA, creating more opportunities for further infection. Our immune system may be compromised and may no longer be able to stop the virus and other diseases from attacking organs throughout the body. Vaccines that attack the virus protein shells while ignoring their contents are doomed to failure from the Darwin effect, but recognizing these loops suggests a possible approach to successful coronavirus vaccines. Only the infection process is considered in my work, not the innate virulence of the virus. For more info, check out this YouTube, Coronavirus – Using Your DNA Against You.

  4. “If you’ve ever wondered whether you would have complied during 1930s Germany, now you know.” — Banner of a Covid-19 protester

    Another TYPICAL bogus fraud study of the criminal pack of ruling psychopaths in power (this “Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health” alone is a glaring give-away).

    A perceptive 10 year old can see, and could see from the start, that Covid-19 has nothing to do with real science (ie, it’s a crimes against humanity political s c a m).

    As just one glaring example, in July of this year Christian Vélot, Ph.D., a French geneticist, stated…

    “[…] by vaccinating massively during a pandemic, we create selection pressure in favor of variants. In a way, we create with mass vaccination vis-à-vis variants the same situation as with the abuse of antibiotics that leads to antibiotic resistance. These have free reign because all bacteria vulnerable to the antibiotic are gone and can no longer “occupy the territory” and limit the proliferation of resistant variants.” ( )

    or this…

    “Drugs known and administered for fifty years (eg hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin) suddenly became dangerous and (Covid) vaccines without any history of use are deemed safe and without risk. On what scientific rationality are these choices based?” ( )

    Luc Montagnier, a French virologist and Nobel Prize Recipient, said the same thing about the Covid vaccines — THEY create the variants — noting “You see it in each country, it’s the same: the curve of vaccination is followed by the curve of deaths.” ( )

    A funeral director observed that the ‘huge explosion’ in death counts FOLLOWED the Mass Vaccination with Covid jabs. (

    Pathologists who investigate deaths after Corona vaccination found that 7 OUT OF 10 are either probably or very probably connected to  the Covid ‘vaccines’ that were administered to these people. (
    That’s why the Powers That Should NOT Be see to it that autopsies are NOT performed on alleged  Covid mortalities.

    This article by Dr. Mercola explains how the CDC FRAUDULENTLY reclassifies deaths of Covid-VACCINATED people to deaths of Covid-UNvaccinated people falsely attributing deaths to unvaccinated while DEflating the GREAT harm from Covid jabs to the vaccinated people —

    And most important.. here is WHY even most SO-CALLED intelligent people could not and still CANNOT figure out that the fake Covid pandemic has NOTHING to do with real science but ALL with criminal politics AGAINST POPULATIONS (you and I) … read “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective  & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” by Rolf Hefti at

    If your employer (even educational or federal employers) wants you to take a Covid vaccine give him/her one of these form letters of exemption found at or            

    “If you don’t stand up for the unvaxxed now, you wouldn’t have stood up for the Jews then.” — Paul Rosenberg

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