Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in COVID-19 patients and healthy volunteers

SARS-CoV-2 has emerged as a novel human pathogen, causing clinical signs, from fever to pneumonia - COVID-19 - but may remain mild or even asymptomatic. To understand the continuing spread of the virus, to detect those who are and were infected, and to follow the immune response longitudinally, reliable and robust assays for SARS-CoV-2 detection and immunological monitoring are needed and have been setup around the world. We quantified immunoglobulin M (IgM), IgG and IgA antibodies recognizing the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) or the Spike (S) protein over a period of five months following COVID-19 disease onset or in previously SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive volunteers. We report the detailed setup to monitor the humoral immune response from over 300 COVID-19 hospital patients and healthcare workers, 2500 University staff and 187 post-COVID19 volunteers, and assessing titres for IgM, IgG and IgA. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses followed a classic pattern with a rapid increase within the first three weeks after symptoms. Although titres reduce from approximately four weeks, the ability to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies remained robust for five months in a large proportion of previously virus-positive screened subjects. Our work provides detailed information for the assays used, facilitating further and longitudinal analysis of protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, it highlights a continued level of circulating neutralising antibodies in most people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2, at least up to five months after infection.

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