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Petersen LR, Sami S, Vuong N, Pathela P, Weiss D, Morgenthau BM, Henseler RA, Daskalakis DC, Atas J, Patel A, Lukacs S, Mackey L, Grohskopf LA, Thornburg N, Akinbami LJ. Lack of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in a large cohort of previously infected persons. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Nov 4:ciaa1685. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1685. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33147319.

Background: Reports suggest that some persons previously infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) lack detectable IgG antibodies. We aimed to determine the proportion IgG seronegative and predictors for seronegativity among persons previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: We analyzed serologic data collected from health care workers and first responders in New York City and the Detroit metropolitan area with history of a positive SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result and who were tested for IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein at least 2 weeks after symptom onset.

Results: Of 2,547 persons with previous confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, 160 (6.3%) were seronegative. Of 2,112 previously symptomatic persons, the proportion seronegative slightly increased from 14 to 90 days post symptom onset (p=0.06). The proportion seronegative ranged from 0% among 79 persons previously hospitalized to 11.0% among 308 persons with asymptomatic infections. In a multivariable model, persons taking immunosuppressive medications were more likely to be seronegative (31.9%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 10.7%-64.7%), while participants of non-Hispanic Black race/ethnicity (versus non-Hispanic White) (2.7%, 95% CI 1.5%-4.8%), with severe obesity (versus under/normal weight) (3.9%, 95% CI 1.7%-8.6%), or with more symptoms were less likely to be seronegative.

Conclusions: In our population with previous RT-PCR confirmed infection, approximately one in 16 persons lacked IgG antibodies. Absence of antibodies varied independently by illness severity, race/ethnicity, obesity, and immunosuppressive drug therapy. The proportion seronegative remained relatively stable among persons tested up to 90 days post symptom onset.

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