Background: There are limited data on short- versus long-term changes in adaptive immune response across different COVID-19 disease severity groups. Methods: A multicenter prospective study of 140 adult patients with COVID-19 (a total of 325 samples) were analyzed for inflammatory markers and lymphocyte subsets at presentation, week 2, and week 24. Results: Inflammatory markers at presentation were higher in the critical/severe than in moderate and mild groups. A predominance of memory B cell response in the mild and moderate group was noted by week 2. In contrast, the immune system in the severe/critical group was dysfunctional, with expansion of exhausted CD8+ T cells and atypical memory B cells. By 24 weeks, there was a possible trend of normalization. Conclusion: There was substantial difference in the degree of inflammation and distribution of different B and T cell subsets in the different disease severity groups. Despite the initial dysfunctional immune response in the severe/critical group, a comparable memory B and CD8+ T cell responses to the mild group was achieved at 24 weeks.
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