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During the first wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection in New Zealand a cohort of 78 PCR-confirmed COVID-19 cases was recruited in the Southern District Health Board region. Here we report on this unique cohort nearly 1-year after infection. There was no known community transmission in the region over the study period due to New Zealands elimination status at the time, nor had any participants received a COVID-19 vaccine. In the absence of re exposure, antibody reactivity to the viral spike protein, as well as neutralising antibodies to both the ancestral strain and the delta variant remained relatively stable between 8 and 11 months post-infection. This suggests long-lived antibody responses can be generated from a single natural infection event. However, given the risks of serious disease associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, vaccination is still strongly recommended.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Funding Statement

This study was funded by Southern Community Laboratories. This work was also funded in part by the School of Medicine Foundation (University of Auckland)

Author Declarations

I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.


The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:

This study was performed at Southern Community Laboratories, Dunedin, NZ, in conjunction with the Southern District Health Board (SDHB), WellSouth (the local primary healthcare organisation), University of Otago, the University of Auckland. Ethical approval for this project was obtained from the NZ Health and Disability Ethics (HDEC) Committee (20/NTB/101)

I confirm that all necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived, and that any patient/participant/sample identifiers included were not known to anyone (e.g., hospital staff, patients or participants themselves) outside the research group so cannot be used to identify individuals.


I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).


I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.


Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv

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