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BackgroundMany countries in Asia and Latin America are currently facing a double burden of outbreaks due to dengue and COVID-19. Here we discuss the similarities and differences between the two infections so that lessons learnt so far from studying both infections will be helpful in further understanding their immunopathogenesis and to develop therapeutic interventions.Main bodyAlthough the entry routes of the SARS-CoV-2 and the dengue virus (DENV) are different, both infections result in a systemic infection, with some similar clinical presentations such as fever, headache, myalgia and gastrointestinal symptoms. However, while dengue is usually associated with a tendency to bleed, development of micro and macrothrombi is a hallmark of severe COVID-19. Apart from the initial similarities in the clinical presentation, there are further similarities between such as risk factors for development of severe illness, cytokine storms, endothelial dysfunction and multi-organ failure. Both infections are characterised by a delayed and impaired type I IFN response and a proinflammatory immune response. Furthermore, while high levels of potent neutralising antibodies are associated with protection, poorly neutralising and cross-reactive antibodies have been proposed to lead to immunopathology by different mechanisms, associated with an exaggerated plasmablast response. The virus specific T cell responses are also shown to be delayed in those who develop severe illness, while varying degrees of endothelial dysfunction leads to increased vascular permeability and coagulation abnormalities.ConclusionWhile there are many similarities between dengue and SARS-CoV-2 infection, there are also key differences especially in long-term disease sequelae. Therefore, it would be important to study the parallels between the immunopathogenesis of both infections for development of more effective vaccines and therapeutic interventions.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of biomedical science

Publication Date





Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit, Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka.


Humans, Dengue Virus, Dengue, Disease Outbreaks, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2