SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses do not predict COVID-19 disease severity

William S. Phipps, Jeffrey A. SoRelle, Quan Zhen Li, Lenin Mahimainathan, Ellen Araj, John Markantonis, Chantale Lacelle, Jyoti Balani, Hiren Parikh, E. Blair Solow, David R. Karp, Ravi Sarode, Alagarraju Muthukumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objectives: Initial reports indicate adequate performance of some serology-based severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) assays. However, additional studies are required to facilitate interpretation of results, including how antibody levels impact immunity and disease course. Methods: A total of 967 subjects were tested for IgG antibodies reactive to SARS-CoV-2, including 172 suspected cases of SARS-CoV-2, 656 plasma samples from healthy donors, 49 sera from patients with rheumatic disease, and 90 specimens from individuals positive for polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–based respiratory viral panel. A subgroup of SARS-CoV-2 PCR-positive cases was tested for IgM antibodies by proteome array method. Results: All specificity and cross-reactivity specimens were negative for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies (0/795, 0%). Positive agreement of IgG with PCR was 83% of samples confirmed to be more than 14 days from symptom onset, with less than 100% sensitivity attributable to a case with severe immunosuppression. Virus-specific IgM was positive in a higher proportion of cases less than 3 days from symptom onset. No association was observed between mild and severe disease course with respect to IgG and IgM levels. Conclusions: The studied SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay had 100% specificity and no adverse cross-reactivity. Measures of IgG and IgM antibodies did not predict disease severity in our patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-465
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 27 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Global health
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • SARS-cov-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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