The goal of this study is to determine how many Belgian hospital healthcare workers (HCW) got in contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and developed antibodies against it over a period of one year. These data may help to evaluate the SARS-CoV-2 burden on healthcare workers and determine potential risk and protective factors to contract a SARS-CoV-2 infection among this population.
The objective of the study was to describe the prevalence and incidence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies among Belgian hospital healthcare workers (HCW) between April 2020 and April 2021.
We used a semi-quantitative ELISA to detect IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in serum samples at 14 time points. Neutralizing antibodies were measured using a neutralization test in positive samples.
Additionally, we performed RT-qPCR to track ongoing SARS-CoV-2 infections and sent out online questionnaires to gather information on participants’ characteristics, COVID-19 symptoms and vaccination status. Analyses were carried out to determine potential risk and protective factors upon infection.
These data may provide more insight into virus circulation and clinical representation of COVID-19 in this population. Such insights may help to evaluate the SARS-CoV-2 burden on Belgian healthcare systems as well as formulate effective preventative measures in hospitals to reduce virus transmission.
The protocol will provide you with additional information on the study population, objectives and methods.
The results of this study and their interpretation were presented in several papers published in 2020 and 2021:
- October 6, 2020: ‘SARS-CoV-2 Prevalence and Seroprevalence among Healthcare Workers in Belgian Hospitals: Baseline Results of a Prospective Cohort Study’.
- February 1, 2021: ‘Persistence of IgG response to SARS-CoV-2’, The Lancet.
- June 29, 2021: ‘Prevalence and incidence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies among healthcare workers in Belgian hospitals before vaccination: a prospective cohort study’, BMJ Open.
A visual overview of the prevalence data gathered in this study can be found on Sciensano’s dashboard. This platform also provides data of other seroprevalence studies implemented by Sciensano in Belgium.