Development of SARS-CoV-2 Specific IgG and Virus-Neutralizing Antibodies after Infection with Variants of Concern or Vaccination

The humoral immunity after SARS-CoV-2 infection or vaccination was examined. Convalescent sera after infection with variants of concern (VOCs: B.1.1.7, n = 10; B.1.351, n = 1) and sera from 100 vaccinees (Pfizer/BioNTech, BNT162b2, n = 33; Moderna, mRNA-1273, n = 11; AstraZeneca, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/AZD1222, n = 56) were tested for the presence of immunoglobulin G (IgG) directed against the viral spike (S)-protein, its receptor-binding domain (RBD), the nucleoprotein (N) and for virus-neutralizing antibodies (VNA). For the latter, surrogate assays (sVNT) and a Vero-cell based neutralization test (cVNT) were used. Maturity of IgG was determined by measuring the avidity in an immunoblot (IB). Past VOC infection resulted in a broad reactivity of anti-S IgG (100%), anti-RBD IgG (100%), and anti-N IgG (91%), while latter were absent in 99% of vaccinees. Starting approximately two weeks after the first vaccine dose, anti-S IgG (75-100%) and particularly anti-RBD IgG (98-100%) were detectable. After the second dose, their titers increased and were higher than in the convalescents. The sVNT showed evidence of VNA in 91% of convalescents and in 80-100%/100% after first/second vaccine dose, respectively. After the second dose, an increase in VNA titer and IgGs of high avidity were demonstrated by cVNT and IB, respectively. Re-vaccination contributes to a more robust immune response.


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