Prevalence of Serum IgG Antibodies Against SARS-CoV-2 Among Clinic Staff

PLoS One. 2020 Jun 25;15(6):e0235417. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235417. eCollection 2020.


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic threatens health care providers and society. For planning of treatment capacities, it is of major importance to obtain reliable information on infection and fatality rates of the novel coronavirus. A German community study, the so-called Heinsberg study, found a 5-fold higher infection rate (and thus a remarkably lower fatality rate) than the officially reported cases suggest. We were interested to examine the SARS-CoV-2-IgG antibody status among clinic staff of a large neurological center in Northern Germany. Blood samples and questionnaires (demographic data, medical history) were collected pseudonymously. In total, 406 out of 525 (77.3%) of our employees participated in the study. The infection rate among the staff was as high as 2.7%. Including drop-outs (missing questionnaire but test result available), the infection rate was even higher (2.9%). Only 36% of the positively tested employees did suffer from flu-like symptoms in 2020. None of the nurses-having closest and longest contact to patients-were found to be positive. Despite the fact that the infection rate among clinic staff may not be directly compared to the situation in the surrounding county (due to different testing procedures), one might hypothesize that the infection rate could be more than 30-fold higher than the number of officially reported cases for the county of Hameln-Pyrmont. The high rate of IgG-positive, asymptomatic healthcare workers might help to overcome fears in daily work.

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.