Seroprevalence, correlates and kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid IgG antibody in healthcare workers and nonclinical staff at a tertiary hospital: A prevaccine census study

Maina D, Omuse G, Ong'ete G, Mugaine P, Sayed S, Moloo Z, Shah R, Etyang A, Adam R
PLoS One. 2022;17

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BACKGROUND: Healthcare workers and nonclinical staff in medical facilities are perceived to be a high-risk group for acquiring SAR-CoV-2 infection, and more so in countries where COVID-19 vaccination uptake is low. Serosurveillance may best determine the true extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection since most infected HCWs and other staff may be asymptomatic or present with only mild symptoms. Over time, determining the true extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection could inform hospital management and staff whether the preventive measures instituted are effective and valuable in developing targeted solutions. METHODS: This was a census survey study conducted at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, between November 2020 and February 2021 before the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid IgG test was performed using a chemiluminescent assay. RESULTS: One thousand six hundred thirty-one (1631) staff enrolled, totalling 60% of the workforce. The overall crude seroprevalence was 18.4% and the adjusted value (for assay sensitivity of 86%) was 21.4% (95% CI; 19.2-23.7). The staff categories with higher prevalence included pharmacy (25.6%), outreach (24%), hospital- based nursing (22.2%) and catering staff (22.6%). Independent predictors of a positive IgG result after adjusting for age, sex and comorbidities included prior COVID-19 like symptoms, odds ratio (OR) 2.0 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3-3.0, p = 0.001], a prior positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR result OR 12.0 (CI: 7.7-18.7, p<0.001) and working in a clinical COVID-19 designated area, OR 1.9 (CI 1.1-3.3, p = 0.021). The odds of testing positive for IgG after a positive PCR test were lowest if the antibody test was performed more than 2 months later; OR 0.7 (CI: 0.48-0.95, p = 0.025). CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of anti- SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid IgG among HCWs and nonclinical staff was lower than in the general population. Staff working in clinical areas were not at increased risk when compared to staff working in non-clinical areas.