Most persons infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), develop virus-specific antibodies within several weeks, but antibody titers might decline over time. Understanding the timeline of antibody decline is important for interpreting SARS-CoV-2 serology results. Serum specimens were collected from a convenience sample of frontline health care personnel at 13 hospitals and tested for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 during April 3-June 19, 2020, and again approximately 60 days later to assess this timeline. The percentage of participants who experienced seroreversion, defined as an antibody signal-to-threshold ratio >1.0 at baseline and <1.0 at the follow-up visit, was assessed. Overall, 194 (6.0%) of 3,248 participants had detectable antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 at baseline (1). Upon repeat testing approximately 60 days later (range = 50-91 days), 146 (93.6%) of 156 participants experienced a decline in antibody response indicated by a lower signal-to-threshold ratio at the follow-up visit, compared with the baseline visit, and 44 (28.2%) experienced seroreversion. Participants with higher initial antibody responses were more likely to have antibodies detected at the follow-up test than were those who had a lower initial antibody response. Whether decay in these antibodies increases risk for reinfection and disease remains unanswered. However, these results suggest that serology testing at a single time point is likely to underestimate the number of persons with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, and a negative serologic test result might not reliably exclude prior infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
- Health Information Management