To study the differences in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to the response to vaccination, we characterized the humoral immune kinetics of these situations. In this prospective longitudinal study, we followed unvaccinated COVID-19-recovered individuals (n = 130) and naïve, two-dose BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals (n = 372) who were age- and BMI-matched for six months during the first pandemic year. Anti-RBD-IgG, neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), and avidity were assessed monthly. For recovered patients, data on symptoms and the severity of the disease were collected. Anti-RBD-IgG and NAbs titers at peak were higher after vaccination vs. after infection, but the decline was steeper (peak log IgG: 3.08 vs. 1.81, peak log NAbs: 5.93 vs. 5.04, slopes: −0.54 vs. −0.26). Peak anti-RBD-IgG and NAbs were higher in recovered individuals with BMI > 30 and in older individuals compared to individuals with BMI < 30, younger population. Of the recovered, 42 (36%) experienced long-COVID symptoms. Avidity was initially higher in vaccinated individuals compared with recovered individuals, though with time, it increased in recovered individuals but not among vaccinated individuals. Here, we show that while the initial antibody titers, neutralization, and avidity are lower in SARS-CoV-2-recovered individuals, they persist for a longer duration. These results suggest differential protection against COVID-19 in recovered-unvaccinated vs. naïve-vaccinated individuals.

Joseph G, Cohen C, Rubin C, Murad H, Indenbaum V, Asraf K, Weiss-Ottolenghi Y, Segal-Lieberman G, Kreiss Y, Lustig Y, Regev-Yochay G.
doi: 10.3390/microorganisms11071628