SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence in blood in a large school community subject to a Covid-19 outbreak: a cross-sectional study


Abstract Background A SARS-CoV-2 outbreak affecting 52 people from a large school community in Santiago, Chile was identified (March 12), nine days after the first country case. We assessed the magnitude of the outbreak and the role students and staff played using a self-administered antibody detection test and survey. Methods The school was closed on March 13, and the entire community was placed under quarantine. We implemented a home-delivery, self-administered, IgG/IgM antibody test and survey to a classroom stratified sample of students and all staff from May 4-19. We aimed to determine overall seroprevalence rates by age group, reported symptoms, contact exposure and to explore dynamics of transmission. Results Antibody positivity rates were 9.9% (95%CI: 8.2-11.8) for 1,009 students and 16.6% (95%CI: 12.1-21.9) for 235 staff. Among students, positivity was associated with younger age (P=0.01), lower grade level (P=0.05), prior RT-PCR positivity (P=0.03), and history of contact with a confirmed case (P<0.001). Among staff, positivity was higher in teachers (P=0.01) and in those previously RT-PCR positive (P<0.001). Excluding RT-PCR positive individuals, antibody positivity was associated with fever in adults and children (P=0.02; P=0.002), abdominal pain in children (P=0.001), and chest pain in adults (P=0.02). Within antibody positive individuals, 40% of students and 18% of staff reported no symptoms (P=0.01). Conclusions Teachers were more affected during the outbreak and younger children were at higher infection risk, likely because index case(s) were teachers and/or parents from preschool. Self-administered antibody testing, supervised remotely, proved to be a suitable and rapid tool. Our study provides useful information for school re-openings.

Clinical Infectious Diseases