Factors associated with antibody titer levels among an occupational cohort of fully vaccinated individuals and subsequent risk of COVID-19 infection: A cohort study

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Journal of Medical Virology


This study (1) determined the association of time since initial vaccine regimen, booster dose receipt, and COVID-19 history with antibody titer, as well as change in titer levels over a defined period, and (2) determined risk of COVID-19 associated with low titer levels. This observational study used data from staff participating in the National Football League COVID-19 Monitoring Program. A cohort of staff consented to antibody-focused sub-study, during which detailed longitudinal data were collected. Among all staff in the program who received antibody testing, COVID-19 incidence following antibody testing was determined. Five hundred eighty-six sub-study participants completed initial antibody testing; 80% (469) completed follow-up testing 50−101 days later. Among 389 individuals who were not boosted at initial testing, the odds of titer < 1000 AU/mL (vs. ≥1000 AU/mL) increased 44% (odds ratio [OR] = 1.44, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.18−1.75) for every 30 days since final dose. Among 126 participants boosted before initial testing with no COVID-19 history, 125 (99%) had a value > 2500 AU/ml; 86 (96%) of 90 tested at follow-up and did not develop COVID-19 in the interim remained at that value. One thousand fifty-seven fully vaccinated (330 [29%] boosted at antibody test) individuals participating in the monitoring program were followed to determine COVID-19 status. Individuals with titer value < 1000 AU/mL had twice the risk of COVID-19 as those with >2500 AU/mL (HR = 2.02, 95% CI: 1.28−3.18). Antibody levels decrease postvaccination; boosting increases titer values. While antibody level is not a clear proxy for infection immunity, lower titer values are associated with higher COVID-19 incidence, suggesting increased protection from boosters.

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