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T-cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 following infection and vaccination are less characterized than antibody responses, due to a more complex experimental pathway. We measured T-cell responses in 108 healthcare workers (HCWs) using the commercialized Oxford Immunotec T-SPOT Discovery SARS-CoV-2 assay service (OI T-SPOT) and the PITCH ELISpot protocol established for academic research settings. Both assays detected T-cell responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike, membrane, and nucleocapsid proteins. Responses were significantly lower when reported by OI T-SPOT than by PITCH ELISpot. Four weeks after two doses of either Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 AZD1222 vaccine, the responder rate was 63% for OI T-SPOT Panels 1 + 2 (peptides representing SARS-CoV-2 spike protein excluding regions present in seasonal coronaviruses), 69% for OI T-SPOT Panel 14 (peptides representing the entire SARS-CoV-2 spike), and 94% for the PITCH ELISpot total spike. The two OI T-SPOT panels correlated strongly with each other showing that either readout quantifies spike-specific T-cell responses, although the correlation between the OI T-SPOT panels and the PITCH ELISpot total spike was moderate. The standardization, relative scalability, and longer interval between blood acquisition and processing are advantages of the commercial OI T-SPOT assay. However, the OI T-SPOT assay measures T-cell responses at a significantly lower magnitude compared to the PITCH ELISpot assay, detecting T-cell responses in a lower proportion of vaccinees. This has implications for the reporting of low-level T-cell responses that may be observed in patient populations and for the assessment of T-cell durability after vaccination.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Exp Immunol

Publication Date





90 - 98


SARS-CoV-2, T cell, infection, vaccination, virus, Antibodies, Viral, BNT162 Vaccine, COVID-19, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, Health Personnel, Humans, Peptides, SARS-CoV-2, Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus, T-Lymphocytes, Vaccination