J Med Virol. 2020 Jul 24. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26353. Online ahead of print.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has become a worldwide pandemic since it emerged in December, 2019. Previous studies have reported rapid antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 with the first 2-3 weeks after symptom onset. Here, we retrospectively described the dynamic changes of serum IgM and IgG specifically against SARS-CoV-2 in later weeks (mainly 4-10 weeks) in 97 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. We observed that serum IgM and IgG, especially in patients with moderate-to-high levels, declined significantly between week 4-10 after illness onset. Notably, IgG levels in high percentage of patients (77.5%, 31/40) rapidly declined by half, from 212.5 (range, 163.7-420.3) to 96.3 (range, 75.0-133.4) AU/ml, within 1-2 weeks in the second month and then sustained around 100 AU/ml until discharge from hospital. Significant reduction of IgM was also observed as SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid converted to negative (p=0.002). In the recovery stage, serum IgG declined significantly (early vs. late recovery stage, n=16, p=0.003) with a median reduction of 50.0% (range, 3.7-77.0%). Our results suggested the decline of IgM may be an indicator of virus clearance and recovery patients may have robust immunity against reinfection within at least 3 months after illness onset. Yet, the rapid reduction of IgG by half arises serious concerns on the robustness and sustainability of humoral immune response in the future period after discharge, which is crucial for immunity strategy and developing vaccine. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.