Seroprevalence of Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in Healthcare Workers in Non-epidemic Region: A Report from Iwate Prefecture in Japan


Akihiro Nakamura, Ryoichi Sato, Sanae Ando, Natsuko Oana, Eiji Nozaki, Hideaki Endo, Yoshiharu Miyate, Jun Soma, Go Miyata


As of June 18, 2020, Iwate is the only one of 47 prefectures in Japan with no confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Serological survey for COVID-19 antibodies is crucial in area with low prevalence as well as epidemic area when addressing health and social issues caused by COVID-19. Rapid, accurate and easy-to-use antibody tests as well laboratory-based antibody tests are necessary for confirming immunity in a given community.


Serum samples from healthcare workers (n = 1,000, mean 40 {+/-} 11 years) of Iwate Prefectural Central Hospital, Iwate, Japan were tested for the prevalence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies. Two laboratory-based quantitative tests (Abbott Architect SARS-CoV-2 IgG and Roche Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assays) and one point-of-care (POC) qualitative test (Alfa Instant-view plus COVID-19 Test) were performed simultaneously. Sensitivity and specificity were 100%, 99.6% in Abbott assay; 100%, 99.8% in Roche assay; 97.8%, 94.6% in Alfa POC test, respectively.


The laboratory-based quantitative tests showed positive in 4 of 1,000 samples (0.4%) (95% CI: 0.01 to 0.79): 4/1,000 (0.4%) (95% CI: 0.01 to 0.79) in Abbott; 0/1,000 (0%) in Roche. Positive samples were not detected for both Abbott and Roche assays. The POC qualitative test showed positive in 33 of 1,000 samples (3.3%) (95% CI: 2.19 to 4.41), showing higher rates than those of the laboratory-based quantitative tests. There were no samples with simultaneous positive reaction for two quantitative tests and a POC test.


Infected COVID-2 cases were not confirmed by a retrospective serological study in healthcare workers of our hospital. The POC qualitative tests with lower specificity have the potential for higher false positive reactions than the laboratory-based quantitative tests in areas with very low prevalence of COVID-19.

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