Relationship of various COVID-19 antibody titer with individual characteristics and prediction of future epidemic trend in Xiamen City, China

J Thorac Dis. 2024 Apr 30;16(4):2404-2420. doi: 10.21037/jtd-23-1516. Epub 2024 Apr 15.


Background: Reinfection of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has raised concerns about how reliable immunity from infection and vaccination is. With mass testing for the virus halted, understanding the current prevalence of COVID-19 is crucial. This study investigated 1,191 public health workers at the Xiamen Center for Disease Control, focusing on changes in antibody titers and their relationship with individual characteristics.

Methods: The study began by describing the epidemiological characteristics of the study participants. Multilinear regression (MLR) models were employed to explore the associations between individual attributes and antibody titers. Additionally, group-based trajectory models (GBTMs) were utilized to identify trajectories in antibody titer changes. To predict and simulate future epidemic trends and examine the correlation of antibody decay with epidemics, a high-dimensional transmission dynamics model was constructed.

Results: Analysis of epidemiological characteristics revealed significant differences in vaccination status between infected and non-infected groups (χ2=376.706, P<0.05). However, the distribution of antibody titers among the infected and vaccinated populations was not significantly different. The MLR model identified age as a common factor affecting titers of immunoglobulin G (IgG), immunoglobulin M (IgM), and neutralizing antibody (NAb), while other factors showed varying impacts. History of pulmonary disease and hospitalization influenced IgG titer, and factors such as gender, smoking, family history of pulmonary diseases, and hospitalization impacted NAb titers. Age was the sole determinant of IgM titers in this study. GBTM analysis indicated a "gradual decline type" trajectory for IgG (95.65%), while IgM and NAb titers remained stable over the study period. The high-dimensional transmission dynamics model predicted and simulated peak epidemic periods in Xiamen City, which correlated with IgG decay. Age-group-specific simulations revealed a higher incidence and infection rate among individuals aged 30-39 years during both the second and third peaks, followed by those aged 40-49, 50-59, 18-29, and 70-79 years.

Conclusions: Our study shows that antibody titer could be influenced by age, previous pulmonary diseases as well as smoking. Furthermore, the decline in IgG titers is consistent with epidemic trends. These findings emphasize the need for further exploration of these factors and the development of optimized self-protection countermeasures against reinfection.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); antibody titer; reinfection; statistical models; transmission dynamics model.