Does infection with SARS-CoV-2 protect against re-exposure to the virus in monkeys?

The Rhesus Macaque, Monkey, Mammal, Animals, Nature

Bottom Line

Monkeys infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop immunity that protects them from re-infection from the virus.


Chandrashekar, A. et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection protects against rechallenge in rhesus macaques. Science (2020).

Date Published:

20 May 2020


It is currently not known whether infection with SARS-CoV-2 provides protective immunity to re-exposure to the virus. To explore this question, researchers exposed rhesus macaque monkeys to SARS-CoV-2 to see whether they could build immunity to the virus. After exposure, all 9 monkeys in the study had high viral loads of the virus in their upper and lower respiratory tract and evidence of pneumonia. When the monkeys were re-exposed to the virus 35 days later after overcoming their primary infection, their upper and lower respiratory tract samples had significantly lower amounts of virus compared to samples from their primary viral infection. The results from this study demonstrate that infection with SARS-CoV-2 induces immunity against re-exposure to the virus in nonhuman primates. However, these results need to be interpreted with caution as there are differences between infections in monkeys and humans. Furthermore, scientists have yet to determine the duration of this natural immunity to re-exposure of the virus.

Summary by: Louis Huynh