Reinfection by the SARS-CoV-2 Gamma variant in blood donors in Manaus, Brazil
Carlos A. Prete,
Lewis F Buss,
Claudia M. M. Abrahim,
Myuki A. E. Crispim,
Marcio K. Oikawa,
Allyson G. da Costa,
Nelson A. Fraiji,
Maria do P. S. S. Carvalho,
Nuno R. Faria,
Vitor H. Nascimento,
Michael Paul Busch,
Ester C. Sabino
Posted 12 May 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.10.21256644
Posted 12 May 2021
Background The city of Manaus, north Brazil, was stricken by a second epidemic wave of SARS-CoV-2 despite high seroprevalence estimates, coinciding with the emergence of the Gamma (P.1) variant. Reinfections were postulated as a partial explanation for the second surge. However, accurate calculation of reinfection rates is difficult when stringent criteria as two time-separated RT-PCR tests and/or genome sequencing are required. To estimate the proportion of reinfections caused by the Gamma variant during the second wave in Manaus and the protection conferred by previous infection, we analyzed a cohort of repeat blood donors to identify anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody boosting as a means to infer reinfection. Methods We tested serial blood samples from unvaccinated repeat blood donors in Manaus for the presence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody. Donors were required to have three or more donations and at least one donation during each epidemic wave. Donors were tested with two assays that display waning in early convalescence, enabling the detection of reinfection-induced boosting. The serial samples were used to divide donors into six groups defined based on the inferred sequence of infection and reinfection with non-Gamma and Gamma variants. Results From 3,655 repeat blood donors, 238 met all inclusion criteria, and 223 had enough residual sample volume to perform both serological assays. Using a strict serological definition of reinfection, we found 13.6% (95% CI 7.0% - 24.5%) of all presumed Gamma infections that were observed in 2021 were reinfections. If we also include cases of probable or possible reinfections, these percentages increase respectively to 22.7% (95% CI 14.3% - 34.2%) and 39.3% (95% CI 29.5% - 50.0%). Previous infection conferred a protection against reinfection of 85.3% (95% CI 71.3% - 92.7%), decreasing to respectively 72.5% (95% CI 54.7% - 83.6%) and 39.5% (95% CI 14.1% - 57.8%) if probable and possible reinfections are included. Conclusions Reinfection due to Gamma is common and may play a significant role in epidemics where Gamma is prevalent, highlighting the continued threat variants of concern pose even to settings previously hit by substantial epidemics.
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