Clinical correlates of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody profiles in Spanish COVID-19 patients from a high incidence region

Laboratory testing for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) consists of two pillars: the detection of viral RNA via rt-PCR as the diagnostic gold standard in acute cases, and the detection of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. However, concerning the latter, questions remain about their diagnostic and prognostic value and it is not clear whether all patients develop detectable antibodies. We examined sera from 347 Spanish COVID-19 patients, collected during the peak of the epidemic outbreak in Spain, for the presence of IgA and IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and evaluated possible associations with age, sex and disease severity (as measured by duration of hospitalization, kind of respiratory support, treatment in ICU and death). The presence and to some degree the levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies depended mainly on the amount of time between onset of symptoms and the collection of serum. A subgroup of patients did not develop antibodies at the time of sample collection. Compared to the patients that did, no differences were found. The presence and level of antibodies was not associated with age, sex, duration of hospitalization, treatment in the ICU or death. The case-fatality rate increased exponentially with older age. Neither the presence, nor the levels of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies served as prognostic markers in our cohort. This is discussed as a possible consequence of the timing of the sample collection. Age is the most important risk factor for an adverse outcome in our cohort. Some patients appear not to develop antibodies within a reasonable time frame. It is unclear, however, why that is, as these patients differ in no respect examined by us from those who developed antibodies.


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