PITCH-2 (Protective Immunity from T cell Cells in Healthcare workers) is an exciting project that seeks to understand the role of T cell immunity in protection against the COVID-19 in healthcare workers.
PITCH-2 (Protective Immunity from T cell Cells in Healthcare workers) is a national consortium study led by the University of Oxford in collaboration with five Universities in England (Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Sheffield). This is a longitudinal observational cohort study of healthcare workers that seeks to understand the immune system's response to COVID-19, whether induced by vaccination or natural exposure to the virus.
Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 are important but other parts of the immune response are necessary for protection against getting ill. T cells, which are a subset of the body’s white blood cells, are crucial for directing the immune response (including co-ordinating antibodies) and also fight the virus once it has infected cells. However, T cells are harder to measure because specialist skills and equipment are needed and therefore most studies focus on antibodies. PITCH-2 takes a comprehensive look at the immune system, measuring antibodies, T cells and other cellular responses in the blood stream, and also looks at the local immune response in the nose (mucosal immunity). The role of antibodies, T cells and other cellular immune responses in protection against future infections with SARS-CoV-2 remains unknown, and lasting immunity to COVID-19 is yet to be determined.
Therefore, detailed examination of the immune system among healthcare workers is essential to provide critical information for vaccine design and future public health policies, including the need for further booster vaccines.
More details and study publications can be found on the PITCH study website PITCH Study (pitch-study.org).