Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard

Author Of 1 Presentation

COVID-19 Late Breaking Abstracts

LB1262 - Low Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in People with Multiple Sclerosis Residing in Massachusetts (ID 2159)



Seroepidemiology is an important tool to characterize the epidemiology and immunobiology of SARS-CoV-2. Most people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are treated with immunomodulators or immunosuppressants, so it is crucial to understand the immune response to the novel SARS-CoV-2 in people with MS.


To investigate the prevalence and persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 antibody response in MS and how this relates to MS phenotype and treatment.


227 consecutive people with MS residing in MA and receiving care at Massachusetts General Hospital or Brigham and Women’s Hospital and 143 of their cohabitants were enrolled May 29-July 23, 2020. In addition, 8 people with MS receiving care elsewhere who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 nasal swab PCR and 7 cohabitants of that group were enrolled to enrich the sample for select analyses. Each participant remotely submitted a dried blood card for in-house MGH SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISA assay testing. The assay displays 99.7% sensitivity and 100% specificity >14 days from symptom onset. Participants completed a REDCap questionnaire covering demographics, MS history and treatments, comorbidities, and COVID-19 symptoms and exposure. Antibody prevalence in MS participants will be compared to that in their cohabitants using Pearson’s Chi-squared tests.


The majority of MS participants were characterized as relapsing/remitting (76.8%) and were taking disease modifying therapies (72.6%) at the time of collection. SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in 3.5% of people with MS residing in MA and 6.3% of their cohabitants (X2=1.54, p=0.22). For comparison, ~1.5% of the MA population had tested positive by PCR in this date range. Exposure and treatment data will be presented in 13 cases of antibody discordance between the person with MS and his/her cohabitant; the person with MS was antibody-negative in 10 cases and antibody-positive in 3 cases with discordance. In total there were 6 MS participants and no cohabitants who previously tested positive by nasal swab PCR but lacked antibodies at follow-up. Of the COVID-positive participants (by PCR or antibody), 54.5% (6 of 11) of MS and 88.9% (8 of 9) of cohabitants were asymptomatic (p=0.16).


Antibody prevalence was low overall in people with MS residing in MA. Discordance between MS participants and their cohabitants and lack of detectable antibodies in some people with MS with prior nasal swab PCR positivity suggest SARS-CoV-2 antibodies may be less persistent in people with MS.