Seroprevalence and SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactivity of endemic coronavirus OC43 and 229E antibodies in Finnish children and adults.Clin Immunol. 2021 08; 229:108782.CI
Endemic human coronaviruses (hCoVs) are common causative agents of respiratory tract infections, affecting especially children. However, in the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, children are the least affected age-group. The objective of this study was to investigate the magnitude of endemic hCoVs antibodies in Finnish children and adults, and pre-pandemic antibody cross-reactivity with SARS-CoV-2. Antibody levels against endemic hCoVs start to rise at a very early age, reaching to overall 100% seroprevalence. No difference in the antibody levels was detected for OC43 but the magnitude of 229E-specific antibodies was significantly higher in the sera of children. OC43 and 229E hCoV antibody levels of children correlated significantly with each other and with the level of cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, whereas these correlations completely lacked in adults. Although none of the sera showed SARS-CoV-2 neutralization, the higher overall hCoV cross-reactivity observed in children might, at least partially, contribute in controlling SARS-CoV-2 infection in this population.