Coronavirus Antibody Responses before COVID-19 Pandemic, Africa and Thailand

Yifan Li, Mélanie Merbah, Suzanne Wollen-Roberts, Bradley Beckman, Thembi Mdluli, Isabella Swafford, Sandra V. Mayer, Jocelyn King, Courtney Corbitt, Jeffrey R. Currier, Heather Liu, Allahna Esber, Suteeraporn Pinyakorn, Ajay Parikh, Leilani V. Francisco, Nittaya Phanuphak, Jonah Maswai, John Owuoth, Hannah Kibuuka, Michael IroezinduEmmanuel Bahemana, Sandhya Vasan, Julie A. Ake, Kayvon Modjarrad, Gregory Gromowski, Dominic Paquin-Proulx, Morgane Rolland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Prior immune responses to coronaviruses might affect human SARS-CoV-2 response. We screened 2,565 serum and plasma samples collected from 2013 through early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic began, from 2,250 persons in 4 countries in Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda) and in Thailand, including persons living with HIV-1. We detected IgG responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) subunit 2 protein in 1.8% of participants. Profiling against 23 coronavirus antigens revealed that responses to S, subunit 2, or subunit 1 proteins were significantly more frequent than responses to the receptor-binding domain, S-Trimer, or nucleocapsid proteins (p<0.0001). We observed similar responses in persons with or without HIV-1. Among all coronavirus antigens tested, SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus antibody responses were much higher in participants from Africa than in participants from Thailand (p<0.01). We noted less pronounced differences for endemic coronaviruses. Serosurveys could affect vaccine and monoclonal antibody distribution across global populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2214-2225
Number of pages12
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


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