Imbalanced host response to SARS-CoV-2 drives development of COVID-19

4 May, 2020
Viral pandemics, such as the one caused by SARS-CoV-2, pose an imminent threat to humanity. Because of its recent emergence, there is a paucity of information regarding viral behavior and host response following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here, we offer an indepth analysis of the transcriptional response to SARS-CoV-2 as it compares to other respiratory viruses. Cell and animal models of SARS-CoV-2 infections, in addition to transcriptional and serum profiling of COVID-19 patients, consistently revealed a unique and inappropriate inflammatory response. This response is defined by low levels of Type I and III interferons juxtaposed to elevated chemokines and high expression of IL6. Taken together, we propose that reduced innate antiviral defenses coupled with exuberant inflammatory cytokine production are the defining and driving feature of COVID-19.