T and B-cell responses in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2

T and B-cell responses in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2

A national biobank of highly characterized samples from symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 positive individuals.

There is a significant gap in our understanding of the details of how, when and by whom protective immunity is acquired following COVID-19 infection. This needs to be coherently addressed at national level in order to better identify those at risk and better manage quarantine, distancing and return to work policies.

The project will perform intensive sampling of sick patients to identify early predictors of severe disease, inform advice on isolation requirements and to better understand how immunity to COVID-19 develops. Samples in the biobank will be available for researchers across Australia (subject to defined access priorities). This will provide a national asset that assists development of future therapeutics and vaccines, and in particular development of COVID-19 virus neutralising antibodies.

Lead Investigators: Irani Thevarajan, Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne, Rowena Bull, The Kirby Institute, UNSW, John-Sebastian Eden, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, David Paterson (TBC) , University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research. David Smith, PathWest Laboratory Medicine, WA, Jen Kok, Western Sydney Local Health District.

Collaborators: Philip Britton, The University of Sydney and Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Robert Booy, University of Sydney, Vitali Sintchenko, Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology – Public Health (CIDM-PH), Westmead


  • Collect COVID-19 clinical course and epidemiological data as well as laboratory samples from adults and children hospitalised as a result of SARS-COV-2 infection;
  • Describe the natural history of COVID-19 including short and long-term outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection;
  • Establish COVID-19 specimen and data biobanks, enabling research that will improve our understanding of protective immune responses, antibody evolution, viral genomic diversity and infectivity.

Research plan

National cohorts for studying T and B-cell responses in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2

Australian COVID-19 clinical cohorts established at the start of the SARS-CoV-2 will be utilised to analyse antibody and T cell responses post-infection. Study cohorts recruited in SETREP-COVID-19 are adult hospitalised patients who require inpatient care (including Intensive Care Unit admissions), adult patients managed in Hospital-In-The-Home (HITH) and children admitted to hospital for inpatient care. SETREP-COVID-19 recruitment will initially include 100 participants in Victoria (hospitalised and sub-acute) and 25 hospitalised participants in Western Australia and Queensland. COSIN is an established prospective longitudinal cohort of adults and children with confirmed COVID-19 infection built on a collaborative network of investigators across 8 major teaching hospitals in NSW.

SETREP-COVID-19 study sites: VIC – Royal Melbourne Hospital and 3 other Melbourne hospitals, Royal Children’s Hospital; WA – Charles Gardiner Hospital; QLD – Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

COSIN Study sites: NSW – Prince of Wales Hospital, Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals; Nepean Hospital; Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; Royal North Shore Hospital, Northern Beaches Hospital; Sydney Children’s Hospital; St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Expansion of these national studies to other states and sites are envisioned, as well as development of a influenza like illness (ILI) investigative cohort utilising existing networks such as Public Health Laboratory Networks, Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) and an Australia-wide network investigating respiratory illness in aged care facilities (ACF).

ILI cohort study sites: ACFs in NSW, Qld and SA, the PAEDS network involves sites in all states and territories