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Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in patients of novel coronavirus disease 2019

By Juanjuan Zhao, Quan Yuan, Haiyan Wang, Wei Liu, Xuejiao Liao, Yingying Su, Xin Wang, Jing Yuan, Tingdong Li, Jinxiu Li, Shen Qian, Congming Hong, Fuxiang Wang, Yingxia Liu, Zhaoqin Wang, Qing He, Zhiyong Li, Bin He, Tianying Zhang, Shengxiang Ge, Lei Liu, Jun Zhang, Ningshao Xia, Zheng Zhang

Posted 03 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.02.20030189

BackgroundThe novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is a newly emerging virus. The antibody response in infected patient remains largely unknown, and the clinical values of antibody testing have not been fully demonstrated. MethodsA total of 173 patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were enrolled. Their serial plasma samples (n = 535) collected during the hospitalization period were tested for total antibodies (Ab), IgM and IgG against SARS-CoV-2 using immunoassays. The dynamics of antibodies with the progress and severity of disease was analyzed. ResultsAmong 173 patients, the seroconversion rate for Ab, IgM and IgG was 93.1% (161/173), 82.7% (143/173) and 64.7% (112/173), respectively. Twelve patients who had not seroconverted were those only blood samples at the early stage of illness were collected. The seroconversion sequentially appeared for Ab, IgM and then IgG, with a median time of 11, 12 and 14 days, respectively. The presence of antibodies was < 40% among patients in the first 7 days of illness, and then rapidly increased to 100.0%, 94.3% and 79.8% for Ab, IgM and IgG respectively since day 15 after onset. In contrast, the positive rate of RNA decreased from 66.7% (58/87) in samples collected before day 7 to 45.5% (25/55) during days 15 to 39. Combining RNA and antibody detections significantly improved the sensitivity of pathogenic diagnosis for COVID-19 patients (p < 0.001), even in early phase of 1-week since onset (p = 0.007). Moreover, a higher titer of Ab was independently associated with a worse clinical classification (p = 0.006). ConclusionsThe antibody detection offers vital clinical information during the course of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The findings provide strong empirical support for the routine application of serological testing in the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 patients.

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