Declining prevalence of antibody positivity to SARS-CoV-2: a community study of 365,000 adults

Title: Declining prevalence of antibody positivity to SARS-CoV-2: a community study of 365,000 adults
Authors: Ward, H
Cooke, G
Atchison, C
Whitaker, M
Elliott, J
Moshe, M
Brown, JC
Flower, B
Daunt, A
Ainslie, K
Ashby, D
Donnelly, C
Riley, S
Darzi, A
Barclay, W
Elliott, P
Item Type: Working Paper
Abstract: Background The prevalence and persistence of antibodies following a peak SARS-CoV-2 infection provides insights into its spread in the community, the likelihood of reinfection and potential for some level of population immunity.Methods Prevalence of antibody positivity in England, UK (REACT2) with three cross-sectional surveys between late June and September 2020. 365104 adults used a self-administered lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) test for IgG. A laboratory comparison of LFIA results to neutralization activity in panel of sera was performed.Results There were 17,576 positive tests over the three rounds. Antibody prevalence, adjusted for test characteristics and weighted to the adult population of England, declined from 6.0% [5.8, 6.1], to 4.8% [4.7, 5.0] and 4.4% [4.3, 4.5], a fall of 26.5% [-29.0, −23.8] over the three months of the study. There was a decline between rounds 1 and 3 in all age groups, with the highest prevalence of a positive result and smallest overall decline in positivity in the youngest age group (18-24 years: −14.9% [-21.6, −8.1]), and lowest prevalence and largest decline in the oldest group (75+ years: −39.0% [-50.8, −27.2]); there was no change in antibody positivity between rounds 1 and 3 in healthcare workers (+3.45% [-5.7, +12.7]).The decline from rounds 1 to 3 was largest in those who did not report a history of COVID-19, (−64.0% [-75.6, −52.3]), compared to −22.3% ([-27.0, −17.7]) in those with SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed on PCR.Discussion These findings provide evidence of variable waning in antibody positivity over time such that, at the start of the second wave of infection in England, only 4.4% of adults had detectable IgG antibodies using an LFIA. Antibody positivity was greater in those who reported a positive PCR and lower in older people and those with asymptomatic infection. These data suggest the possibility of decreasing population immunity and increasing risk of reinfection as detectable antibodies decline in the population.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementThis work was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in England. We thank key collaborators on this work -- Ipsos MORI: Stephen Finlay, John Kennedy, Kevin Pickering, Duncan Peskett, Sam Clemens and Kelly Beaver; Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College: Gianluca Fontana, Dr Hutan Ashrafian, Sutha Satkunarajah and Lenny Naar; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust: Robert Klaber; the Patient Experience Research Centre and the REACT Public Advisory Panel; NHS Digital for access to the NHS Register. HW is a NIHR Senior Investigator and acknowledges support from NIHR Biomedical Research Centre of Imperial College NHS Trust, NIHR School of Public Health Research, NIHR Applied Research Collaborative North West London, Wellcome Trust 205456/Z/16/Z. GC is supported by an NIHR Professorship. WSB is the Action Medical Research Professor, AD is an NIHR senior investigator and DA is an Emeritus NIHR Senior Investigator. SR acknowledges support from MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU), Wellcome Trust (200861/Z/16/Z, 200187/Z/15/Z), and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US, U01CK0005-01-02) PE is Director of the MRC Centre for Environment and Health (MR/L01341X/1, MR/S019669/1). PE acknowledges support from the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR HPRUs in Environmental Exposures and Health and Chemical and Radiation Threats and Hazards, the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence at Imperial College London (RE/18/4/34215) and the UK Dementia Research Institute at Imperial (MC_PC_17114). We thank the Huo Family Foundation for support of our work on COVID-19. Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:We obtained research ethics approval from the South Central-Berkshire B Research Ethics Committee (IRAS ID: 283787) All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).YesI have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesThe original datasets generated or analysed, or both, during this study are not publicly available because of governance restrictions and the identifiable nature of the data.
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2020
DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.26.20219725
Open Access location:
Appears in Collections:Department of Surgery and Cancer
Department of Infectious Diseases
Central Services
Faculty of Medicine

Institute of Global Health Innovation
Imperial College London COVID-19
School of Public Health

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