Risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure among hospital healthcare workers in relation to patient contact and type of care

Scand J Public Health. 2021 Nov;49(7):707-712. doi: 10.1177/14034948211022434. Epub 2021 Jun 19.


Aim: We aimed to assess prevalence of IgG antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and factors associated with seropositivity in a large cohort of healthcare workers (HCWs).

Methods: From 11 May until 11 June 2020, 3981 HCWs at a large Swedish emergency care hospital provided serum samples and questionnaire data. Presence of IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 was measured as an indicator of SARS-CoV-2 exposure.

Results: The total seroprevalence was 18% and increased during the study period. Among the seropositive HCWs, 11% had been entirely asymptomatic. Participants who worked with COVID-19 patients had higher odds for seropositivity: adjusted odds ratio 1.96 (95% confidence intervals 1.59-2.42). HCWs from three of the departments managing COVID-19 patients had significantly higher seroprevalences, whereas the prevalence among HCWs from the intensive care unit (also managing COVID-19 patients) was significantly lower.

Conclusions: HCWs in contact with SARS-CoV-2 infected patients had a variable, but on average higher, likelihood for SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Keywords: Antibodies; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; health personnel; healthcare workers; seroepidemiologic studies; seroprevalence.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Health Personnel
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Personnel, Hospital
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies