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In order to support vaccine development, and to aid convalescent plasma therapy, it would be important to understand the kinetics, timing and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), and their association with clinical disease severity. Therefore, we used a surrogate viral neutralization test to evaluate their levels in patients with varying severity of illness, in those with prolonged shedding and those with mild/asymptomatic illness at various time points. Patients with severe or moderate COVID-19 illness had earlier appearance of NAbs at higher levels compared to those with mild or asymptomatic illness. Furthermore, those who had prolonged shedding of the virus, had NAbs appearing faster and at higher levels than those who cleared the virus earlier. During the first week of illness the NAb levels of those with mild illness was significantly less (p = 0.01), compared to those with moderate and severe illness. At the end of 4 weeks (28 days), although 89% had NAbs, 38/76 (50%) in those with > 90 days had a negative result for the presence of NAbs. The Ab levels significantly declined during convalescence (> 90 days since onset of illness), compared to 4 to 8 weeks since onset of illness. Our data show that high levels of NAbs during early illness associated with clinical disease severity and that these antibodies declined in 50% of individuals after 3 months since onset of illness.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





Centre for Dengue Research, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenapura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka.


Humans, Convalescence, Antibodies, Viral, Neutralization Tests, Immunization, Passive, Severity of Illness Index, Adult, Middle Aged, Sri Lanka, Female, Male, Adaptive Immunity, Antibodies, Neutralizing, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 Serotherapy