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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Determinants of pre-vaccination antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in the UK

An artist's impression of the COVID-19 virus

A prospective population-based study of >11,000 UK adults not vaccinated against or testing positive for COVID-19 before enrolment in the COVIDENCE study has found that higher alcohol consumption and lower light physical exercise are new, modifiable risk factors for COVID infection. Previous large population-based serology studies have not considered risk factors related to lifestyle, diet, or levels of physical activity. In this study, researchers used online questionnaires to collect information on 88 potential sociodemographic, behavioural, nutritional, clinical and pharmacological risk factors. Serological population-based studies test members of a population uniformly, including people who might not be captured by routine testing. This approach reduces the risk of bias and can uncover previously undetected asymptomatic infections. In this research, responses to SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein in dried blood spots taken from Nov 2020 to April 2021 showed that 15.2% (1696) of participants were seropositive. Recognised associations between South Asian ethnic origin and obesity and higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity were independent of other sociodemographic, behavioural, nutritional, clinical, and pharmacological factors investigated. Among seropositive participants, higher titres of anti-Spike antibodies in people of South Asian ancestry and in obese people were not explained by greater COVID-19 disease severity in these groups. WIPH First Author Mohammad Talaei said: “The links we have shown between South Asian ethnicity and modifiable lifestyle factors and higher risk of seropositivity, as well as associations with antibody titres for factors like ethnicity, dairy intake, and anxiety and depression, are subjects for future research to understand underlying mechanisms and to plan preventive measures better.”

Mohammad Talaei, Sian Faustini, Hayley Holt, David A Jolliffe, Giulia VivaldiMatthew Greenig, Natalia PerdekSheena MaltbyCarola BigognoJane SymonsGwyneth DaviesRonan LyonsChristopher GriffithsFrank KeeAziz SheikhAlex RichterSeif ShaheenAdrian Martineau. Determinants of pre-vaccination antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2: a population-based longitudinal study (COVIDENCE UK). BMC Med 2022.



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