SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence survey among 18,000 healthcare and administrative personnel at hospitals, pre-hospital services, and specialist practitioners in the Central Denmark Region

Abstract

Objectives: The objective of this study was to perform a large seroprevalence survey on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among Danish healthcare workers to identify high risk groups. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: All healthcare workers and administrative personnel at the seven hospitals, pre-hospital services and specialist practitioner clinics in the Central Denmark Region were invited by e-mail to be tested for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 by a commercial SARS-CoV-2 total antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA, Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co., Ltd., Beijing, China). Participants: A total of 25,950 participants were invited. Of these, 17,987 (69%) showed up for blood sampling, and 17,971 had samples available for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing. Main outcome measures: 1) Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies; 2) Risk factors for seropositivity; 3) Association of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and antibodies. Results: After adjustment for assay sensitivity and specificity, the overall seroprevalence was 3.4% (CI: 2.5%-3.8%). The seroprevalence was higher in the western part of the region than in the eastern part (11.9% vs 1.2%, difference: 10.7 percentage points, CI: 9.5-12.2). In the high prevalence area, the emergency departments had the highest seroprevalence (29.7%) while departments without patients or with limited patient contact had the lowest seroprevalence (2.2%). Multivariable logistic regression analysis with age, sex, and profession as the predictors showed that nursing staff, medical doctors, and biomedical laboratory scientists had a higher risk than medical secretaries, who served as reference (OR = 7.3, CI: 3.5-14.9; OR = 4., CI: 1.8-8.9; and OR = 5.0, CI: 2.1-11.6, respectively). Among the total 668 seropositive participants, 433 (64.8%) had previously been tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, and 50.0% had a positive RT-PCR result. A total of 98% of individuals who had a previous positive viral RNA test were also found to be seropositive. Conclusions: We found large differences in the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in staff working in the healthcare sector within a small geographical area of Denmark and signs of in-hospital transmission. Half of all seropositive staff had been tested positive by PCR prior to this survey. This study raises awareness of precautions which should be taken to avoid in-hospital transmission. Additionally, regular testing of healthcare workers for SARS-CoV-2 should be considered to identify areas with increased transmission. Trial registration: The study is approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (1-16-02-207-20).

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