Use of U.S. Blood Donors for National Serosurveillance of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies: Basis for an Expanded National Donor Serosurveillance Program

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Jun 10;ciab537. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab537. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The REDS-IV-P Epidemiology, Surveillance and Preparedness of the Novel SARS-CoV-2 Epidemic (RESPONSE) seroprevalence study conducted monthly cross-sectional testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies on blood donors in six U.S. metropolitan regions to estimate the extent of SARS-COV-2 infections over time.

Study design/methods: During March-August 2020, approximately ≥1,000 serum specimens were collected monthly from each region and tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using a well-validated algorithm. Regional seroprevalence estimates were weighted based on demographic differences with the general population. Seroprevalence was compared with reported COVID-19 case rates over time.

Results/findings: For all regions, seroprevalence was <1.0% in March 2020. New York experienced the biggest increase (peak seroprevalence, 15.8 % in May). All other regions experienced modest increases in seroprevalence(1-2% in May-June to 2-4% in July-August). Seroprevalence was higher in younger, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic donors. Temporal increases in donor seroprevalence correlated with reported case rates in each region. In August, 1.3-5.6 estimated cumulative infections (based on seroprevalence data) per COVID-19 case reported to CDC.

Conclusion: Increases in seroprevalence were found in all regions, with the largest increase in New York. Seroprevalence was higher in non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic blood donors than in non-Hispanic White blood donors. SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing of blood donor samples can be used to estimate the seroprevalence in the general population by region and demographic group. The methods derived from the RESPONSE seroprevalence study served as the basis for expanding SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence surveillance to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 Serological Testing; SARS-CoV-2; seroprevalence.