Schwarzkopf S, Krawczyk A, Knop D, Klump H, Heinold A, Heinemann FM, Thümmler L, Temme C, Breyer M, Witzke O, Dittmer U, Lenz V, Horn PA, Lindemann M. Cellular Immunity in COVID-19 Convalescents with PCR-Confirmed Infection but with Undetectable SARS-CoV-2-Specific IgG. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Oct 15;27(1). doi: 10.3201/2701.203772. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33058753.

We investigated immune responses against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among a group of convalescent, potential blood donors in Germany who had PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Sixty days after onset of symptoms, 13/78 (17%) study participants had borderline or negative results to an ELISA detecting IgG against the S1 protein of SARS-CoV-2. We analyzed participants with PCR-confirmed infection who had strong antibody responses (ratio >3) as positive controls and participants without symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and without household contact with infected patients as negative controls. Using interferon-γ ELISpot, we observed that 78% of PCR-positive volunteers with undetectable antibodies showed T cell immunity against SARS-CoV-2. We observed a similar frequency (80%) of T-cell immunity in convalescent donors with strong antibody responses but did not detect immunity in negative controls. We concluded that, in convalescent patients with undetectable SARS-CoV-2 IgG, immunity may be mediated through T cells.

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