Discordance between Serum Neutralizing Antibody Titers and the Recovery from COVID-19
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The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has caused a tremendous alarm around the world. Details of the infection process in the host have significant bearings on both recovery from the disease and on the correlates of the protection from the future exposures. One of these factors is the presence and titers of neutralizing Abs (NAbs) in infected people. In the current study, we set out to investigate NAbs in the recovered subjects discharged from the hospital in full health. Serum samples from a total of 49 documented consecutive COVID-19 subjects were included in the study. All the subjects were adults, and serum samples collected during the discharge were tested in viral neutralization, enzyme immunoassay (EIA), and Western immunoblot tests against viral Ags. Even though a majority of the recovered subjects had raised significant NAb titers, there is a substantial number of recovered patients (10 out of 49) with no or low titers of NAbs against the virus. In these cohorts as well as in patients with high NAb titers, viral Ag binding Abs were detectable in EIA tests. Both NAb titers and EIA detectable Abs are increased in patients experiencing a severe form of the disease, and in older patients the Ab titers were heightened. The main conclusion is that the recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection is not solely dependent on high NAb titers in affected subjects, and this recovery process is probably produced by a complex interplay between many factors, including immune response, age of the subjects, and viral pathology.