BackgroundSARS-CoV-2 infection represents a major challenge for long-term care facilities (LTCFs) and many residents and staff are seropositive following persistent outbreaks. We aimed to investigate the association between the SARS-CoV-2 antibody status at baseline and subsequent infection in this population.
MethodsWe did a prospective cohort study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in staff (aged <65 years) and residents (aged >65 years) at 100 LTCFs in England between Oct 1, 2020, and Feb 1, 2021. Blood samples were collected between June and November, 2020, at baseline, and 2 and 4 months thereafter and tested for IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid and spike proteins. PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 was done weekly in staff and monthly in residents. Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) of a PCR-positive test by baseline antibody status, adjusted for age and sex, and stratified by LTCF.
Findings682 residents from 86 LCTFs and 1429 staff members from 97 LTCFs met study inclusion criteria. At baseline, IgG antibodies to nucleocapsid were detected in 226 (33%) of 682 residents and 408 (29%) of 1429 staff members. 93 (20%) of 456 residents who were antibody-negative at baseline had a PCR-positive test (infection rate 0·054 per month at risk) compared with four (2%) of 226 residents who were antibody-positive at baseline (0·007 per month at risk). 111 (11%) of 1021 staff members who were antibody-negative at baseline had PCR-positive tests (0·042 per month at risk) compared with ten (2%) of 408 staff members who were antibody-positive staff at baseline (0·009 per month at risk). The risk of PCR-positive infection was higher for residents who were antibody-negative at baseline than residents who were antibody-positive at baseline (adjusted HR [aHR] 0·15, 95% CI 0·05-0·44, p=0·0006), and the risk of a PCR-positive infection was also higher for staff who were antibody-negative at baseline compared with staff who were antibody-positive at baseline (aHR 0·39, 0·19-0·82; p=0·012). 12 of 14 reinfected participants had available data on symptoms, and 11 of these participants were symptomatic. Antibody titres to spike and nucleocapsid proteins were comparable in PCR-positive and PCR-negative cases.
InterpretationThe presence of IgG antibodies to nucleocapsid protein was associated with substantially reduced risk of reinfection in staff and residents for up to 10 months after primary infection.
FundingUK Government Department of Health and Social Care.
Krutikov M, Palmer T, Tut G, Fuller C, Shrotri M, Williams H, Davies D, Irwin-Singer A, Robson J, Hayward A, Moss P, Copas A, Shallcross L.
Original content: https://web.www.healthdatagateway.org/paper/34104901