Serologic responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection among hospital staff with mild disease in eastern France


Background: The serologic response of individuals with mild forms of SARS-CoV-2 infection is poorly characterized. Methods: Hospital staff who had recovered from mild forms of PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were tested for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using two assays: a rapid immunodiagnostic test (99.4% specificity) and the S-Flow assay (~99% specificity).The neutralizing activity of the sera was tested with a pseudovirus-based assay. Results: Of 162 hospital staff who participated in the investigation, 160 reported SARS-CoV- 2 infection that had not required hospital admission and were included in these analyses. The median time from symptom onset to blood sample collection was 24 days (IQR: 21-28, range 13-39). The rapid immunodiagnostic test detected antibodies in 153 (95.6%) of the samples and the S-Flow assay in 159 (99.4%), failing to detect antibodies in one sample collected 18 days after symptom onset (the rapid test did not detect antibodies in that patient). Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) were detected in 79%, 92% and 98% of samples collected 13-20, 21-27 and 28-41 days after symptom onset, respectively (P=0.02). Conclusion: Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were detected in virtually all hospital staff sampled from 13 days after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. This finding supports the use of serologic testing for the diagnosis of individuals who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. The neutralizing activity of the antibodies increased overtime. Future studies will help assess the persistence of the humoral response and its associated neutralization capacity in recovered patients.