Hospital staff in Quebec had high levels of antibodies (seroprevalence) to SARS-CoV-2 after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in hospitals with outbreaks, a study published in found CMAJ (Journal of the Canadian Medical Association).
In Quebec, 25% of all COVID-19 cases during the first phase of the pandemic involved health care workers.
“The number of COVID-19 cases reported to health care workers underestimated the number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 during this period, as limited tests resulted in undiagnosed asymptomatic or pauzi-symptomatic infections,” writes Dr. Nicholas Brousseau, Institut national de santé publique du Québec and Center de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, with co-authors. “Seroprevalence studies are an important tool to determine the proportion of people infected with SARS-CoV-2, both in the Average population and among health workers. “
This study looked at the seroprevalence of more than 2,000 health care workers in Quebec, including doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, caregivers, and cleaners, between July and September 2020 after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors found a seroprevalence of 18–32% in 4 hospitals in Montréal with outbreaks. The seroprevalence was 5-7% in 4 other hospitals in Montréal with no such outbreaks and only 2-4% in 2 hospitals in less affected areas of the province.
Healthcare workers among inpatient COVID-19 units and non-COVID-19 units had a higher seroprevalence for SARS-CoV-2 than those in the Intensive care unit or Emergency department, perhaps because of the latter’s strict infection prevention and control protocols.
“These results highlight the increased risk of infection for healthcare workers in hospitals, especially those who work in outbreak environments. Interestingly, the 4 hospitals in Montréal with higher seroprevalence were older hospitals, a factor that has been linked to larger outbreaks, ”the authors write.
The data underscore the need for rapid and extensive vaccination of Health care workers.
“The high risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in hospital Workers support the prioritization of this group for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in Canada and efforts to achieve very high vaccine intake in this population, ”the authors conclude.
Nicholas Brousseau et al., SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence in Healthcare Workers from 10 Hospitals in Quebec, Canada: A Cross-Sectional Study, Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (2021). DOI: 10.1503 / cmaj.202783
Journal of the Canadian Medical Association
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