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Study: Extremely low SARS-CoV-2 rate in blood donors
People infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus develop antibodies against characteristics of the pathogen in the course of the disease after a few days to weeks. A study has now investigated how many "silent" infections with the new virus, ie infections without symptoms, have occurred among blood donors.
Many coronavirus sufferers show no symptoms. They can therefore unwittingly transfer the pathogen to other people and thus pose a high risk. According to researchers, the number of "silent" carriers could reach millions worldwide. Now there are new insights into how high this number could be in this country.
Antibodies were detected in less than one percent
According to a recent announcement, scientists from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) tested more than 900 anonymized samples from blood donors for antibodies in April, May and June to get an idea of the "silent" infections with the SARS-CoV To make -2 pathogen.
Antibodies against the novel coronavirus were detected in less than one percent of the blood donations examined.
The Hamburg authority for health and consumer protection initiated the investigation together with the UKE.
Continue to adhere to hygiene and distance requirements
"While the PCR tests to detect an infection are just a snapshot, antibody tests can be used to determine whether a person has developed immunity to the SARS-CoV-2," explains Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks, Senator of the Authority for Health and Consumer Protection.
“This enables the population to be determined whether there is sufficient immunity to stop the virus from spreading. The first results of the study show us that this is apparently not the case, although further tests are ongoing, ”said the senator.
"As long as there is no evidence of pre-existing immunity among the population or an approved vaccine, it is still important to adhere to hygiene and distance requirements to limit the spread of the virus."
Undetected course of infections
People who develop COVID-19 develop antibodies against the characteristics of the virus in the course of the disease after a few days to weeks.
How many "silent" infections with the SARS-CoV-2-Coronavirus, ie infections without symptoms, have occurred among blood donors in the UKE in the past three months? Sven Peine, Head of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine, together with Dr. Marc Lütgehetmann, Institute for Medical Microbiology, Virology and Hygiene, on a total of 914 blood samples.
In the period from April 6-10 to 300, only one previously unknown SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected serologically (0.3 percent) in 300 blood donors; in the period from May 4 to 6, there were two previously unknown ones in 288 blood donors SARS-CoV-2 infections (0.7 percent) and in the period from 2 to 5 June with 326 blood donors again only a previously unknown SARS-CoV-2 infection (0.3 percent).
"Blood donors are not a 1: 1 image of the Hamburg population, but they can give us good clues about the unnoticed course of infection," said Dr. Sven Peine.
The expert adds: "Anyone who has only had mild or non-specific cold symptoms here in Hamburg in the past few months was very likely not to have developed COVID-19."
Routine testing of all blood donations in Germany is not necessary
According to the information, so-called reserve samples from 300 blood donors from 2017 were tested for the presence of antibodies against the novel corona virus in the first step by mid-April.
Because it could be assumed that no blood donor in Hamburg could have been infected with the novel virus in 2017, these tests were used to check four different antibody tests (by the companies DiaSorin, Euroimmun, Roche and Wantai).
All of these tests showed good analytical specificity in the blood donors with only an extremely small number of false positive results.
In the second step, a suitable antibody test was then selected based on the results in order to detect the antibodies in the blood. As explained in the message, the blood drawn is placed in a test vessel with components of the virus (antigens) in the laboratory.
If antibodies against the novel corona virus are present, they bind to the antigens and can be visualized with a fluorescent agent.
Due to the high sensitivity, the Roche antibody test was used for the further study (this only showed a false positive result in 319 samples).
In a third step, blood donation samples anonymized in April 300, May 288 and 326 in June were examined for the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.
The result of the screening showed that the SARS-CoV-2 rate among the 914 blood donors was below one percent.
According to the current state of the art and also according to the assessment of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, routine testing of all blood donations in Germany is not necessary, since only very few and then only seriously ill people carry the viruses in the blood and as such are not in any way questionable as blood donors come.
According to the experts, the series of tests will continue to be repeated every four weeks. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.