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The dynamics of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) seroconversion of hospital employees are understudied. We measured the proportion of seroconverted employees and evaluated risk factors for seroconversion during the first pandemic wave.
In this prospective cohort study, we recruited Geneva University Hospitals employees and sampled them 3 times, every 3 weeks from March 30 to June 12, 2020. We measured the proportion of seroconverted employees and determined prevalence ratios of risk factors for seroconversion using multivariate mixed-effects Poisson regression models.
Overall, 3,421 participants (29% of all employees) were included, with 92% follow-up. The proportion of seroconverted employees increased from 4.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.7%–5.1%) at baseline to 8.5% [(95% CI, 7.6%–9.5%) at the last visit. The proportions of seroconverted employees working in COVID-19 geriatrics and rehabilitation (G&R) wards (32.3%) and non–COVID-19 G&R wards (12.3%) were higher compared to office workers (4.9%) at the last visit. Only nursing assistants had a significantly higher risk of seroconversion compared to office workers (11.7% vs 4.9%; P = .006). Significant risk factors for seroconversion included the use of public transportation (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.25–2.03), known community exposure to severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (2.80; 95% CI, 2.22–3.54), working in a ward with a nosocomial COVID outbreak (2.93; 95% CI, 2.27–3.79), and working in a COVID-19 G&R ward (3.47; 95% CI, 2.45–4.91) or a non–COVID-19 G&R ward (1.96; 95% CI, 1.46–2.63). We observed an association between reported use of respirators and lower risk of seroconversion (0.73; 95% CI, 0.55–0.96).
Additional preventive measures should be implemented to protect employees in G&R wards. Randomized trials on the protective effect of respirators are urgently needed.
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