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

ABSTRACT

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.


Subject(s)
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
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