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researchsquare; 2022.


Background: Serological testing is used to quantify SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence, guide booster vaccination and select patients for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies therapy. However, our understanding of how serological tests perform as time passes after infection is limited.Methods: Four assays were compared in parallel: 1) the multiplexed spike, nucleoprotein and receptor binding domain Meso Scale Discovery (MSD) assay 2) the Roche Elecsys-Nucleoprotein assay (Roche-N) 3) the Roche Spike assay (Roche-S) and 4) the Abbott Nucleoprotein assay (Abbott-N) on serial positive monthly samples from hospital staff up to 200 days following infection as part of the Co-Stars study.Results: We demonstrate that 50% of the Abbott-N assays give a negative result after 175 days (median survival time 95% CI 168-185 days) while the Roche-N assay (93% survival probability at 200 days, 95% CI 88-97%) maintained seropositivity. The MSD spike (97% survival probability at 200 days, 95% CI 95-99%) and the Roche-S assay (95% survival probability at 200 days, 95% CI 93-97%) also remained seropositive. The best performing quantitative Roche-S assay showed no evidence of waning Spike antibody titres over 200-days.Conclusions: The Abbott-N assay fails to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies as time passes since infection. In contrast the Roche and the MSD assays maintained high sensitivity. The limitations of the Abbott assay must be considered in clinical decision making. The long duration of detectable neutralizing spike antibody titres by the quantitative Roche-S assay provides further evidence in support of long-lasting SARS-CoV-2 protection to pre-existing strains of SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection.Trial registration: Co-STARs study was registered with on May 8th, 2020, with trial number NCT04380896 (, NCT04380896)

ssrn; 2020.
Preprint in English | PREPRINT-SSRN | ID: ppzbmed-10.2139.ssrn.3739808


Background: Antibodies to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been shown to neutralize the virus in-vitro and prevent disease in animal challenge models upon re-exposure. However, current understanding of SARS-CoV-2 humoral dynamics and longevity is conflicting.Methods: The Co-Stars study prospectively enrolled 3679 healthcare workers to comprehensively characterize the kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 spike (S), receptor-binding-domain (RBD) and nucleoprotein (N) antibodies in parallel. Participants screening seropositive had serial monthly serological testing for maximum 7 months with the Mesoscale Discovery Assay. Survival analysis determined the proportion of sero-reversion while two hierarchical Gamma models predicted the upper- and lower-bounds of long-term antibody trajectory.Results: A total of 1163 monthly samples were provided from 349 seropositive participants. At 200 days post-symptoms, 99% of participants had detectable S-antibodies compared to 75% with detectable N-antibodies. S-antibody was predicted to remain detectable in 95% of participants until 465 days [95%CI 370-575] using a ‘continuous-decay’ model and indefinitely using a ‘decay-to-plateau’ model to account for antibody secretion by long-lived plasma cells. S-antibody titers correlated strongly with surrogate neutralization in-vitro (R2=0.72). N-antibodies, however, decayed rapidly with a half-life of 60 days [95%CI 52-68].Conclusions: The Co-STAR's study data presented here provides evidence for long-term persistence of neutralizing S-antibodies. This has important implications for the duration of functional immunity following SARS-CoV-2 infection. In contrast, the rapid decay of N-antibodies must be considered in future seroprevalence studies and public health decision-making. This is the first study to establish a mathematical framework capable of predicting long-term humoral dynamics following SARS-CoV-2 infection.Trial Registration: NCT04380896.Funding Statement: GOSH charity, Wellcome Trust (201470/Z/16/Z and 220565/Z/20/Z). GOSH NIHR Funded Biomedical Research Centre.Declaration of Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.Ethics Approval Statement: This study was approved by the UK Health Research Authority ( Written informed consent was obtained from all participants before recruitment to the study.

COVID-19 , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.11.20.20235697


Background: Antibodies to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been shown to neutralize the virus in-vitro. Similarly, animal challenge models suggest that neutralizing antibodies isolated from SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals prevent against disease upon re-exposure to the virus. Understanding the nature and duration of the antibody response following SARS-CoV-2 infection is therefore critically important. Methods: Between April and October 2020 we undertook a prospective cohort study of 3555 healthcare workers in order to elucidate the duration and dynamics of antibody responses following infection with SARS-CoV-2. After a formal performance evaluation against 169 PCR confirmed cases and negative controls, the Meso-Scale Discovery assay was used to quantify in parallel, antibody titers to the SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein (N), spike (S) protein and the receptor-binding-domain (RBD) of the S-protein. All seropositive participants were followed up monthly for a maximum of 7 months; those participants that were symptomatic, with known dates of symptom-onset, seropositive by the MSD assay and who provided 2 or more monthly samples were included in the analysis. Survival analysis was used to determine the proportion of sero-reversion (switching from positive to negative) from the raw data. In order to predict long-term antibody dynamics, two hierarchical longitudinal Gamma models were implemented to provide predictions for the lower bound (continuous antibody decay to zero, 'Gamma-decay') and upper bound (decay-to-plateau due to long lived plasma cells, 'Gamma-plateau') long-term antibody titers. Results: A total of 1163 samples were provided from 349 of 3555 recruited participants who were symptomatic, seropositive by the MSD assay, and were followed up with 2 or more monthly samples. At 200 days post symptom onset, 99% of participants had detectable S-antibody whereas only 75% of participants had detectable N-antibody. Even under our most pessimistic assumption of persistent negative exponential decay, the S-antibody was predicted to remain detectable in 95% of participants until 465 days [95% CI 370-575] after symptom onset. Under the Gamma-plateau model, the entire posterior distribution of S-antibody titers at plateau remained above the threshold for detection indefinitely. Surrogate neutralization assays demonstrated a strong positive correlation between antibody titers to the S-protein and blocking of the ACE-2 receptor in-vitro [R2=0.72, p<0.001]. By contrast, the N-antibody waned rapidly with a half-life of 60 days [95% CI 52-68]. Discussion: This study has demonstrated persistence of the spike antibody in 99% of participants at 200 days following SARS-CoV-2 symptoms and rapid decay of the nucleoprotein antibody. Diagnostic tests or studies that rely on the N-antibody as a measure of seroprevalence must be interpreted with caution. Our lowest bound prediction for duration of the spike antibody was 465 days and our upper bound predicted spike antibody to remain indefinitely in line with the long-term seropositivity reported for SARS-CoV infection. The long-term persistence of the S-antibody, together with the strong positive correlation between the S-antibody and viral surrogate neutralization in-vitro, has important implications for the duration of functional immunity following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome , COVID-19
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.07.16.20155663


Introduction: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) specific antibodies have been shown to neutralize the virus in-vitro. Understanding antibody dynamics following SARS-CoV-2 infection is therefore crucial. Sensitive measurement of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is also vital for large seroprevalence surveys which inform government policies and public health interventions. However, rapidly waning antibodies following SARS-CoV-2 infection could jeopardize the sensitivity of serological testing on which these surveys depend. Methods: This prospective cohort study of SARS-CoV-2 humoral dynamics in a central London hospital analyzed 137 serial samples collected from 67 participants seropositive to SARS-CoV-2 by the Meso-Scale Discovery assay. Antibody titers were quantified to the SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein (N), spike (S-)protein and the receptor-binding-domain (RBD) of the S-protein. Titers were log-transformed and a multivariate log-linear model with time-since-infection and clinical variables was fitted by Bayesian methods. Results: The mean estimated half-life of the N-antibody was 52 days (95% CI 42-65). The S- and RBD-antibody had significantly longer mean half-lives of 81 days (95% CI 61-111) and 83 days (95% CI 55-137) respectively. An ACE-2-receptor competition assay demonstrated significant correlation between the S and RBD-antibody titers and ACE2-receptor blocking in-vitro. The time-to-a-negative N-antibody test for 50% of the seropositive population was predicted to be 195 days (95% CI 163-236). Discussion: After SARS-CoV-2 infection, the predicted half-life of N-antibody was 52 days with 50% of seropositive participants becoming seronegative to this antibody at 195 days. Widely used serological tests that depend on the N-antibody will therefore significantly underestimate the prevalence of infection following the majority of infections.

Coronavirus Infections , COVID-19