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COVID-19 Antibody Test Results May Vary Based on Gender, New Study Suggests

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Apr 2021
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A study suggests that clinical laboratories should anticipate gender-dependent differences in COVID-19 antibody levels as the findings showed these levels are significantly higher in males and that antibodies may last for four times longer in males.

The study by researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University (Cardiff, UK) aimed to determine the antibody prevalence in a professional Welsh cohort and begin to explore the longevity of COVID-19 antibodies. 739 University staff members took part in the observational study to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in a two-phase, single cohort study. All the participants were tested for IgM and IgG antibodies against COVID-19 using a lateral flow detection assay. Venous blood samples from positive participants and a randomly selected negative population were collected to confirm antibody titre, using two gold standard immunoassays.

The researchers found that 3.65% of the population tested positive for anti-bodies against COVID-19, with a higher prevalence seen in male participants (5% vs. 2.73% of females). In addition to gender, both pre-existing asthma and age were key determinants in antibody positivity. 78.26% retained antibodies at the three months follow up test. 36.36% of females lost antibody positivity between the three and six months time points compared with 8.3% of males. Lateral flow antibody testing was shown to have 96% sensitivity and 95% specificity compared with standard tests.

The researchers concluded that the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies is evident in the asymptomatic population, and in 78.26% of those initially antibody positive prevails at approximately six months from perceived time of exposure. Additionally, males are four times more likely to retain antibodies for longer than females, making it important for clinical laboratories to recognize that COVID-19 test results may vary based on gender.

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