Dynamic changes of throat swabs RNA and serum antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 and their diagnostic performances in patients with COVID-19

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2020 Dec;9(1):1974-1983. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1810133.


Dynamic changes of RNA and antibodies in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients remain largely unknown, and influence factors for antibody production have not been fully clarified. In this study, consecutive throat swabs specimens (n = 1875) from 187 patients were collected to analyse the dynamic changes of RNA. Moreover, 162 serial serum samples from 31 patients were tested for seroconversion of IgM and IgG. Meanwhile, IgM and IgG were also detected in 409 COVID-19 patients and 389 controls. Additionally, the logistic regression analysis was executed to identify the possible influence factors for antibody production. The median positive conversion time for RNA was day 7 (IQR, 3-11), and the positive rate was highest in day 1-5 (74.59 %) and then gradually decreased. The median time of seroconversion for IgM and IgG were both day 12 (IQR, 10-15). The sensitivity and specificity for IgM (or IgG) was 87.04% and 96.92%, respectively. Multivariate logistic regression indicated that reduced lymphocytes and short positive conversion time for SARS-CoV-2 RNA were independent factors for negative results of IgM and IgG. In conclusion, RNA and antibodies should be combined for COVID-19 diagnosis, and delayed seroconversion was influenced by the decreased lymphocytes and short positive conversion time for RNA.

Keywords: Antibody; COVID-19; RNA; SARS-CoV-2; throat swabs.