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Thorax ; 75(12): 1089-1094, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-760280


OBJECTIVE: To determine the rates of asymptomatic viral carriage and seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in healthcare workers. DESIGN: A cross-sectional study of asymptomatic healthcare workers undertaken on 24/25 April 2020. SETTING: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT), UK. PARTICIPANTS: 545 asymptomatic healthcare workers were recruited while at work. Participants were invited to participate via the UHBFT social media. Exclusion criteria included current symptoms consistent with COVID-19. No potential participants were excluded. INTERVENTION: Participants volunteered a nasopharyngeal swab and a venous blood sample that were tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein antibodies, respectively. Results were interpreted in the context of prior illnesses and the hospital departments in which participants worked. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Proportion of participants demonstrating infection and positive SARS-CoV-2 serology. RESULTS: The point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 viral carriage was 2.4% (n=13/545). The overall seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was 24.4% (n=126/516). Participants who reported prior symptomatic illness had higher seroprevalence (37.5% vs 17.1%, χ2=21.1034, p<0.0001) and quantitatively greater antibody responses than those who had remained asymptomatic. Seroprevalence was greatest among those working in housekeeping (34.5%), acute medicine (33.3%) and general internal medicine (30.3%), with lower rates observed in participants working in intensive care (14.8%). BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) ethnicity was associated with a significantly increased risk of seropositivity (OR: 1.92, 95% CI 1.14 to 3.23, p=0.01). Working on the intensive care unit was associated with a significantly lower risk of seropositivity compared with working in other areas of the hospital (OR: 0.28, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.78, p=0.02). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: We identify differences in the occupational risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 between hospital departments and confirm asymptomatic seroconversion occurs in healthcare workers. Further investigation of these observations is required to inform future infection control and occupational health practices.

Antibodies, Viral/blood , Asymptomatic Diseases , COVID-19/diagnosis , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , RNA, Viral/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Seroepidemiologic Studies
J Clin Virol ; 128: 104469, 2020 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-343387


BACKGROUND: In January 2020 reports of unidentified severe respiratory illness were described in Wuhan, China. A rapid expansion in cases affecting most countries around the globe led to major changes in the way people live their daily lives. In the United Kingdom, the Department of Health and Social Care directed healthcare providers to establish additional resources to manage the anticipated surge in cases that could overwhelm the health services. A priority area was testing for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and its detection by qualitative RT-PCR. DESIGN: A laboratory workflow twinning research environment with clinical laboratory capabilities was implemented and validated in the University of Birmingham within 4 days of the project initiation. The diagnostic capability was centred on an IVD CE-marked RT-PCR kit and designed to provide surge capacity to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The service was initially tasked with testing healthcare workers (HCW) using throat swabs, and subsequently the process investigated the utility of using saliva as an alternative sample type. RESULTS: Between the 8th April 2020 and the 30th April 2020, the laboratory tested a total of 1282 HCW for SARS-CoV-2 RNA in throat swabs. RNA was detected in 54 % of those who reported symptoms compatible with COVID-19, but in only 4% who were asymptomatic. CONCLUSION: This capability was established rapidly and utilised a cold-chain free methodology, applicable to a wide range of settings, and which can provide surge capacity and support to clinical laboratories facing increasing pressure during periods of national crisis.

Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , RNA, Viral/blood , Betacoronavirus/genetics , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Saliva/virology , Surge Capacity , United Kingdom , Workflow