Reported coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case counts likely underestimate the true prevalence because mild or asymptomatic cases often go untested. Here, we use a sero-survey to estimate the seroprevalence of IgG antibodies against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the St. Louis, MO, metropolitan area in a symptom-independent manner. Five hundred three adult and 555 pediatric serum/plasma samples were collected from patients presenting to Barnes-Jewish Hospital or St. Louis Children's Hospital between 14 April 2020 and 12 May 2020. We developed protocols for in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) using spike and nucleoprotein and used the assays to estimate a seroprevalence rate based on our samples. Overall IgG seropositivity was estimated to be 1.71% (95% credible interval [CI], 0.04% to 3.38%) in pediatric samples and 3.11% (95% CI, 0.92% to 5.32%) in adult samples. Seropositivity was significantly lower in children under 5 years of age than in adults, but rates between adults and children aged 5 or older were similar. Of the 176 samples tested from children under 4 years of age, none were positive.IMPORTANCE This study determined the percentages of both children and adult samples from the greater St. Louis metropolitan area who had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in late April to early May 2020. Approximately 1.7 to 3.1% of the tested individuals had antibodies, indicating that they had previously been infected by SARS-CoV-2. These results demonstrate that the extent of infection was about 10 times greater than the number of confirmed cases at that time. Furthermore, it demonstrated that by 5 years of age, children were infected to an extent similar to that of adults.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; St. Louis; serology; seroprevalence.
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