SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity among HCP associated with community — not workplace — exposure
Most risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 positivity for health care personnel were outside the workplace, researchers reported.
The results “provide reassurance that current infection prevention practices in diverse health care settings are effective in preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from patients to” health care personnel (HCP), the authors wrote.
“All of the protective measures used in health care, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control policies and procedures, keep our health care providers safe. COVID-19 vaccination and other prevention strategies targeting community transmission will also be critical to prevent COVD-19 in health care providers,” Jesse T. Jacob, MD, associate professor of medicine at Emory University, told Healio. “Health care providers should be reassured that following existing infection prevention practices in the workplace appear effective in preventing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from patients, and should continue to follow public health recommendations while in the community.”
Jacob and colleagues analyzed SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity rates among 24,749 health care personnel (HCP) in three states. They examined each participant’s demographic information, community COVID-19 contact and health care-associated contact factors like workplace, job roles and contact with patients with COVID-19.
The researchers found that the incidence of COVID-19 per 10,000 people in the community ranged from 8.2 to 275.6, and 81.1% of HCP reported no COVID-19 contacts in their community. The rate of seropositivity for SARS-CoV-2 was 4.4% (95% CI, 4.1%-4.6%) for all study participants.
Both community COVID-19 contact (adjusted OR = 3.5; 95% CI, 2.9-4.1) and the overall community incidence of COVID-19 (aOR = 1.8; 95% CI, 1.3-2.6) were associated with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity. None of the workplace factors assessed were found to be associated with seropositivity.
In an accompanying editorial Shruti K. Gohil, MD, MPH, and Susan S. Huang, MD, MPH, from the University of California, Irvine Health, said the study underscores the importance of PPE and hospital protective protocols.
“The reassurance that infection prevention protocols and PPE are effective should not undermine the front-line contribution of HCP who are appropriately prioritized for PPE and COVID-19 vaccination given their critical role in pandemic response,” they wrote.
Jacob said the study’s limitations included the possibility of transmission between health care providers and a lack of standardization among the questionnaires used for analysis.
“Future studies should look at potential health-care-provider-to-health-care-provider transmission and presenteeism and account for the impact of vaccination,” he said.