Low antibody levels associated with significantly increased rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a highly vaccinated population from the US National Basketball Association

J Med Virol. 2024 Mar;96(3):e29505. doi: 10.1002/jmv.29505.


SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels may serve as a correlate for immunity and could inform optimal booster timing. The relationship between antibody levels and protection from infection was evaluated in vaccinated individuals from the US National Basketball Association who had antibody levels measured at a single time point from September 12, 2021, to December 31, 2021. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the risk of infection within 90 days of serologic testing by antibody level (<250, 250-800, and >800 AU/mL1 ), adjusting for age, time since last vaccine dose, and history of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Individuals were censored on date of booster receipt. The analytic cohort comprised 2323 individuals and was 78.2% male, 68.1% aged ≤40 years, and 56.4% vaccinated (primary series) with the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. Among the 2248 (96.8%) individuals not yet boosted at antibody testing, 77% completed their primary vaccine series 4-6 months before testing and the median (interquartile range) antibody level was 293.5 (interquartile range: 121.0-740.5) AU/mL. Those with levels <250 AU/mL (adj hazard ratio [HR]: 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.5-3.7) and 250-800 AU/mL (adj HR: 1.5; 95% CI: 0.98-2.4) had greater infection risk compared to those with levels >800 AU/mL. Antibody levels could inform individual COVID-19 risk and booster scheduling.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2 antibodies; immunity; serology testing; test utilization.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Basketball*
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccines*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Vaccines

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