Corona among blood donors

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities


Background The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic challenges governments worldwide to balance appropriate virus control measures and their societal and economic consequences. These control measures include the identification, isolation and testing of potentially infected individuals. As this relies on an individual's awareness of infection, we investigated the extent to which healthy adults suspected having had COVID-19, and how COVID-19 suspicion and symptoms relate to antibodies indicative of a past infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Methods and findings Individuals donating plasma anywhere in the Netherlands between May 11th and 18th were screened for total SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using ELISA and invited to participate in an online questionnaire about COVID-19-related symptoms and awareness. Antibody and questionnaire data were complete for 3,676 individuals, including 239 (6.5%) that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Here, we show that a 38% of the individuals that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies reported having had no or only very mild symptoms at any time during the peak of the epidemic. The loss of taste and/or smell in particular was significantly associated with seropositivity, independent of age and sex. Forty-eight percent of antibody-positive persons did not suspect having had COVID-19, in spite of most of them reporting symptoms. Conclusions Awareness of infection was low among individuals that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, even at the peak of the epidemic. Improved awareness and recognition of COVID-19 symptoms and tracing of asymptomatic contacts is crucial to halting SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Period25 Aug 2020 → 25 Jan 2021

Media contributions


Media contributions