SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence among employees of a university hospital in Belgium during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak (COVEMUZ-study)
Abstract: Between 19 May and 12 June 2020, employees of the UZ Brussel were recruited in this study aiming to document the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) seroprevalence, to investigate the potential work-related risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection and to estimate the proportion of asymptomatic infections. In total, 2662 participants were included of whom 7.4% had immunoglobulin G antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Of the participants reporting a positive polymerase chain reaction for SARS-CoV-2, 89% had antibodies at the time of blood sampling. Eleven per cent of the antibody positive participants reported no recent symptoms suggestive of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Participants reporting fever, chest pain and/or anosmia/ageusia were significantly more frequently associated with the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The presence of antibodies was highest in the group that had had contact with COVID-19-infected individuals outside the hospital with or without using appropriate personnel protective equipment (PPE) (P < 0.001). Inside the hospital, a statistically significant difference was observed for the employees considered as low-risk exposure compared to the intermediate-risk exposure group (P = 0.005) as well as the high-risk exposure group compared to the intermediate exposure risk group (P < 0.001). These findings highlight the importance of using correct PPE.
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