Self, et al. (2020) remind us that "understanding the prevalence of and factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection among frontline healthcare personnel (HCP) who care for COVID-19 patients is important for protecting both HCP and their patients."
The investigators report in todays/ MMWR that from April 3, 2020 through June 19, 2020, serum specimens were collected from a convenience sample of frontline HCP who worked with COVID-19 patients at 13 geographically diverse academic medical centers in the United States, and specimens were tested for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. Participants were asked about potential symptoms of COVID-19 experienced since February 1, 2020, previous testing for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, and their use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the past week.
Among 3,248 participants, 194 (6.0%) had positive test results for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Seroprevalence by hospital ranged from 0.8% to 31.2% (median = 3.6%). Among the 194 seropositive participants, 56 (29%) reported no symptoms since February 1, 2020, 86 (44%) did not believe that they previously had COVID-19, and 133 (69%) did not report a previous COVID-19 diagnosis. Seroprevalence was lower among personnel who reported always wearing a face covering (defined in this study as a surgical mask, N95 respirator, or powered air purifying respirator [PAPR]) while caring for patients (5.6%), compared with that among those who did not (9.0%) (p = 0.012).
As the authors state, "Consistent with persons in the general population with SARS-CoV-2 infection, many frontline HCP with SARS-CoV-2 infection might be asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic during infection, and infection might be unrecognized. Enhanced screening, including frequent testing of frontline HCP, and universal use of face coverings in hospitals are two strategies that could reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission."
Reference: Self WH, Tenforde MW, et al. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Among Frontline Health Care Personnel in a Multistate Hospital Network — 13 Academic Medical Centers, April–June 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 69. Aug. 31, 2020.