The duration, dynamics and determinants of SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses in individual healthcare workers
Lumley S., Wei J., O’Donnell D., Stoesser N., Matthews P., Howarth A., Hatch S., Marsden B., Cox S., James T., Peck L., Ritter T., de Toledo Z., Cornall R., Jones Y., Stuart D., Screaton G., Ebner D., Hoosdally S., Crook D., Conlon C., Pouwels K., Walker S., Peto TEA., Walker T., Jeffery K., Eyre D., Oxford University Hospitals Staff Testing Group None.
Background SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody measurements can be used to estimate the proportion of a population exposed or infected and may be informative about the risk of future infection. Previous estimates of the duration of antibody responses vary. Methods We present 6 months of data from a longitudinal seroprevalence study of 3217 UK healthcare workers (HCWs). Serial measurements of IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid were obtained. Bayesian mixed linear models were used to investigate antibody waning and associations with age, gender, ethnicity, previous symptoms and PCR results. Results In this cohort of working age HCWs, antibody levels rose to a peak at 24 (95% credibility interval, CrI 19-31) days post-first positive PCR test, before beginning to fall. Considering 452 IgG seropositive HCWs over a median of 121 days (maximum 171 days) from their maximum positive IgG titre, the mean estimated antibody half-life was 85 (95%CrI, 81-90) days. The estimated mean time to loss of a positive antibody result was 137 (95%CrI 127-148) days. We observed variation between individuals; higher maximum observed IgG titres were associated with longer estimated antibody half-lives. Increasing age, Asian ethnicity and prior self-reported symptoms were independently associated with higher maximum antibody levels, and increasing age and a positive PCR test undertaken for symptoms with longer antibody half-lives. Conclusion IgG antibody levels to SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid wane within months, and faster in younger adults and those without symptoms. Ongoing longitudinal studies are required to track the long-term duration of antibody levels and their association with immunity to SARS-CoV-2 reinfection. Summary Serially measured SARS-CoV-2 anti-nucleocapsid IgG titres from 452 seropositive healthcare workers demonstrate levels fall by half in 85 days. From a peak result, detectable antibodies last a mean 137 days. Levels fall faster in younger adults and following asymptomatic infection.