Patterns and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Chicago to monitor COVID-19 exposure

Alexis R. Demonbreun*, Thomas W. McDade, Lorenzo Pesce, Lauren A. Vaught, Nina L. Reiser, Elena Bogdanovic, Matthew P. Velez, Ryan R. Hsieh, Lacy M. Simons, Rana Saber, Daniel T. Ryan, Michael G. Ison, Judd F. Hultquist, John T. Wilkins, Richard T. D'Aquila, Brian Mustanski, Elizabeth M. McNally*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Estimates of seroprevalence to SARS-CoV-2 vary widely and may influence vaccination response. We ascertained IgG levels across a single US metropolitan site, Chicago, from June 2020 through December 2020. METHODS. Participants (n = 7935) were recruited through electronic advertising and received materials for a self-sampled dried-blood spot assay through the mail or a minimal contact in-person method. IgG against the receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 was measured using an established highly sensitive and highly specific assay. RESULTS. Overall seroprevalence was 17.9%, with no significant difference between method of contact. Only 2.5% of participants reported having had a diagnosis of COVID-19 based on virus detection, consistent with a 7-fold greater exposure to SARS-CoV-2 measured by serology than that detected by viral testing. The range of IgG level observed in seropositive participants from this community survey overlapped with the range of IgG levels associated with COVID-19 cases having a documented positive PCR test. From a subset of those who participated in repeat testing, half of seropositive individuals retained detectable antibodies for 3 to 4 months. CONCLUSION. Quantitative IgG measurements with a highly specific and sensitive assay indicated more widespread exposure to SARS-CoV-2 than observed by viral testing. The range of IgG concentrations produced from these asymptomatic exposures was similar to IgG levels occurring after documented nonhospitalized COVID-19, which were considerably lower than those produced from hospitalized COVID-19 cases. The differing ranges of IgG response, coupled with the rate of decay of antibodies, may influence response to subsequent viral exposure and vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere146148
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 10 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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