The Protection Provided by Naturally Acquired Antibodies against Subsequent SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Link to article at PubMed

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2022 Feb 23:1-44. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2022.2046446. Online ahead of print.


The specific antibodies induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection may provide protection against a subsequent infection. However, the efficacy and duration of protection provided by naturally acquired immunity against subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection remain controversial. We systematically searched for the literature describing COVID-19 reinfection published before 07 February 2022. The outcomes were the pooled incidence rate ratio (IRR) for estimating the risk of subsequent infection. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) was used to assess the quality of the included studies. Statistical analyses were conducted using the R programming language 4.0.2. We identified 19 eligible studies including more than 3.5 million individuals without the history of COVID-19 vaccination. The efficacy of naturally acquired antibodies against reinfection was estimated at 84% (pooled IRR = 0.16, 95% CI: 0.14-0.18), with higher efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 cases (pooled IRR = 0.09, 95% CI = 0.07-0.12) than asymptomatic infection (pooled IRR = 0.28, 95% CI = 0.14-0.54). In the subgroup analyses, the pooled IRRs of COVID-19 infection in health care workers (HCWs) and the general population were 0.22 (95% CI = 0.16-0.31) and 0.14 (95% CI = 0.12-0.17), respectively, with a significant difference (P = 0.02), and those in older (over 60 years) and younger (under 60 years) populations were 0.26 (95% CI = 0.15-0.48) and 0.16 (95% CI= 0.14-0.19), respectively. The risk of subsequent infection in the seropositive population appeared to increase slowly over time. In conclusion, naturally acquired antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 can significantly reduce the risk of subsequent infection, with a protection efficacy of 84%.

PMID:35195494 | DOI:10.1080/22221751.2022.2046446

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