Comparison of IgG and neutralizing antibody responses after one or two doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in previously infected and uninfected individuals.

Alexis R. Demonbreun, Amelia Sancilio, Matt P. Velez, Daniel T. Ryan, Rana Saber, Lauren A. Vaught, Nina L. Reiser, Ryan R. Hsieh, Richard T. D'Aquila, Brian Mustanski, Elizabeth M. McNally, Thomas W. McDade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background: Recent reports have suggested that among individuals previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, a single mRNA vaccine dose is sufficient to elicit high levels of immunity. Methods: We compared anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor binding domain (RBD) IgG antibody concentrations and antibody-mediated neutralization of spike-angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE2) receptor binding in vitro following vaccination of non-hospitalized participants by sero-status and acute virus diagnosis history. Participants were analysed before and after mRNA vaccination (BNT162b2/Pfizer or mRNA-1273/Moderna) in a community-based, home-collected, longitudinal serosurvey in the Chicago area (USA); none reported hospitalization for COVID-19. Samples were collected in January and February 2021. Before vaccination, some reported prior positive acute viral diagnostic testing and were seropositive (COVID-19+); the others who did not report acute viral diagnostic testing were categorized as seropositive or seronegative based on anti-spike RBD IgG test results. Findings: Of 307 unique vaccine recipients, 46 reported a prior COVID-19 diagnosis and were seropositive (COVID-19 +). Of the 261 with no history of acute viral diagnostic testing, 117 were seropositive and 144 seronegative before vaccination. The median age was 38 years (range 21–83) with 67 female and 33% male; 40% were non-White. Responses were evaluated after one (n = 142) or two (n = 191) doses of BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 vaccine. After one dose, median post-vaccine IgG concentration and percent surrogate neutralization were each significantly higher among the COVID-19+ (median 48·2 µg/ml, IgG; > 99.9% neutralization) compared to the seropositives (3·6 µg /ml IgG; 56.5% neutralization) and seronegatives (2·6 µg /ml IgG; 38·3% neutralization). The latter two groups reached > 95% neutralization after the second vaccine dose. Interpretation: After one dose of mRNA vaccine, individuals previously diagnosed with COVID-19 responded with high levels of anti-RBD IgG and surrogate neutralization of spike-ACE2 interaction. One dose of mRNA vaccine was not sufficient to generate comparably high responses among most persons previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 without a clinical COVID-19 diagnosis, nor among seronegative persons. Funding: National Science Foundation 2035114, NIH 3UL1TR001422–06S4, and Northwestern University Office of Research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101018
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Dried blood spots
  • IgG
  • Neutralizing
  • Receptor binding domain
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Serological testing
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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