Background: Previous severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination, independently and combined ("hybrid immunity"), result in partial protection from subsequent infection and strong protection from severe disease. Proportions of the US population who have been infected, vaccinated, or have hybrid immunity remain unclear, posing a challenge for assessing effective pandemic mitigation strategies.
Methods: In this serial cross-sectional study, nationwide blood donor specimens collected during January-December 2021 were tested for anti-spike and anti-nucleocapsid antibodies, and donor COVID-19 vaccination history of ≥1 dose was collected. Monthly seroprevalence induced from SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 vaccination, or both, were estimated. Estimates were weighted to account for demographic differences from the general population and were compared temporally and by demographic factors.
Results: Overall, 1 123 855 blood samples were assayed. From January to December 2021, the weighted percentage of donations with seropositivity changed as follows: seropositivity due to vaccination without previous infection, increase from 3.5% (95% confidence interval, 3.4%-3.7%) to 64.0%, (63.5%-64.5%); seropositivity due to previous infection without vaccination, decrease from 15.6% (15.2%-16.0%) to 11.7% (11.4%-12.0%); and seropositivity due to hybrid immunity, increase from 0.7% (0.6%-0.7%) to 18.9% (18.5%-19.3%). Combined seroprevalence from infection, vaccination, or both increased from 19.8% (19.3%-20.2%) to 94.5% (93.5%-94.0%). Infection- and vaccination-induced antibody responses varied significantly by age, race-ethnicity, and region, but not by sex.
Conclusions: Our results indicate substantial increases in population humoral immunity from SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 vaccination, and hybrid immunity during 2021. These findings are important to consider in future COVID-19 studies and long-term pandemic mitigation efforts.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; antibodies; immunity; seroprevalence; vaccination.
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