Neutralizing immunity against coronaviruses in Tanzanian health care workers

Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa); Anaesthesiology (East Africa)


The ongoing vaccination efforts and exposure to endemic and emerging coronaviruses can shape the population's immunity against this group of viruses. In this study, we investigated neutralizing immunity against endemic and emerging coronaviruses in 200 Tanzanian frontline healthcare workers (HCWs). Despite low vaccination rates (19.5%), we found a high SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence (94.0%), indicating high exposure in these HCWs. Next, we determined the neutralization capacity of antisera against human coronavirus NL63, and 229E, SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 (including Omicron subvariants: BA.1, BQ.1.1 and XBB.1.5) using pseudovirus neutralization assay. We observed a broad range of neutralizing activity in HCWs, but no neutralization activity detected against MERS-CoV. We also observed a strong correlation between neutralizing antibody titers for SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, but not between other coronaviruses. Cross-neutralization titers against the newer Omicron subvariants, BQ.1.1 and XBB.1.5, was significantly reduced compared to BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants. On the other hand, the exposed vaccinated HCWs showed relatively higher median cross-neutralization titers against both the newer Omicron subvariants and SARS-CoV-1, but did not reach statistical significance. In summary, our findings suggest a broad range of neutralizing potency against coronaviruses in Tanzanian HCWs with detectable neutralizing immunity against SARS-CoV-1 resulting from SARS-CoV-2 exposure.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Scientific reports