Prevalence and incidence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 among primary healthcare providers in Belgium during 1 year of the COVID-19 epidemic: prospective cohort study protocol
Adriaenssens N., Scholtes B., Bruyndonckx R., Verbakel JY., De Sutter A., Heytens S., Van den Bruel A., Desombere I., Van Damme P., Goossens H., Buret L., Duysburgh E., Coenen S.
IntroductionNational SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence data provide essential information about population exposure to the virus and help predict the future course of the epidemic. Early cohort studies have suggested declines in levels of antibodies in individuals associated with, for example, illness severity, age and comorbidities. This protocol focuses on the seroprevalence among primary healthcare providers (PHCPs) in Belgium. PHCPs manage the vast majority of (COVID-19) patients and therefore play an essential role in the efficient organisation of healthcare. Currently, evidence is lacking on (1) how many PHCPs get infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Belgium, (2) the rate at which this happens, (3) their clinical spectrum, (4) their risk factors, (5) the effectiveness of the measures to prevent infection and (6) the accuracy of the serology-based point-of-care test (POCT) in a primary care setting.Methods and analysisThis study will be set up as a prospective cohort study. General practitioners (GPs) and other PHCPs (working in a GP practice) will be recruited via professional networks and professional media outlets to register online to participate. Registered GPs and other PHCPs will be asked at each testing point (n=9) to perform a capillary blood sample antibody POCT targeting IgM and IgG against the receptor-binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 and complete an online questionnaire. The primary outcomes are the prevalence and incidence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in PHCPs during a 12-month follow-up period. Secondary outcomes include the longevity of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.Ethics and disseminationEthical approval has been granted by the ethics committee of the University Hospital of Antwerp/University of Antwerp (Belgian registration number: 3002020000237). Alongside journal publications, dissemination activities include the publication of monthly reports to be shared with the participants and the general population through the publicly available website of the Belgian health authorities (Sciensano).Trial registration numberNCT04779424.