SARS-CoV-2 antibody seroprevalence after the first wave among workers at a community healthcare system in the Greater Boston area

Pathog Glob Health. 2021 Mar 17;1-4. doi: 10.1080/20477724.2021.1901041. Online ahead of print.


SARS-CoV-2 antibody seroprevalence among health-care workers (HCW) can assess past exposure and possible immunity, which varies across different regions, populations and times. We investigated the seroprevalence among HCW in Massachusetts (a region suffering high COVID-19 mortality) at the end of first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. All HCW at Cambridge Health Alliance were invited to participate in this cross-sectional survey in June 2020. Those who volunteered, consented and provided a blood sample were included. Dried blood specimens from finger-prick sampling collected either at home by each HCW or onsite by the study team were analyzed for anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG to the virus' receptor binding domain, using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. IgM and IgG antibody abundance were categorized based on the number of standard deviations above the cross-reacting levels found in existing, pre-pandemic blood samples previously obtained by the Ragon Institute and analyzed by the Broad Institute (Cambridge, MA). Seroprevalence estimates were made based on 'positive' IgM or IgG using 'low' (>6 SD), 'medium' (>4.5 SD), and 'high' prevalence cutoffs (>3 SD).A total of 433 out of 5,204 eligible HCWs consented and provided samples. Participating HCWs had a lower cumulative incidence (from the start of the pandemic up to the bloodspot collections) of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positivity (1.85%) compared to non-participants (3.29%). The low, medium, and high seroprevalence estimates were 8.1%, 11.3%, and 14.5%, respectively. The weighted estimates based on past PCR positivity were 13.9%, 19.4%, and 24.9%, respectively, for the entire healthcare system population after accounting for participation bias.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; health-care workers; immunity; serology; seroprevalence; surveillance.