By third quarter 2022, an estimated 96.4% of US blood donors had antibodies against COVID-19 from a previous infection or vaccination, including 22.6% from infection alone and 26.1% from vaccination alone, with 47.7% having both (hybrid immunity), according to a study published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Led by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the study involved antibody testing of blood samples from 72,748 donors aged 16 and older collected from April to June 2021.
Percentage with antibodies rose over time
From April to June 2021, an estimated 68.4% of blood donors had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from previous infection or vaccination, including 47.5% from vaccination alone, 12.0% from infection alone, and 8.9% from both.
From January to March 2022, 93.5% of donors had antibodies from previous infection or vaccination, including 39.0% from vaccination alone, 20.5% from infection alone, and 34.1% from both.
During July to September 2022, 96.4% of participants had antibodies from previous infection or vaccination, including 26.1% from vaccination alone, 22.6% from infection alone, and 47.7% from both. From July to September 2022, the prevalence of infection-induced immunity was 85.7% among unvaccinated participants and 64.3% among their vaccinated peers.
From July to September 2022, donors aged 65 years and older had the lowest prevalence of hybrid immunity (36.9%), and those aged 16 to 29 years had the highest (59.6%). From January through June 2022, COVID-19 incidence among unvaccinated participants was 21.7%, compared with 13.3% among the vaccinated. And from April to September 2022, the incidence among unvaccinated donors was 28.3%, compared with 22.9% among their vaccinated peers.
The incidence of first COVID-19 infections was higher among younger than older participants. "Lower prevalences of infection-induced and hybrid immunity could further increase the risk for severe disease in this group, highlighting the importance for adults aged ≥65 years to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination and have easy access to antiviral medications," the researchers wrote.