Detection of neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 to determine population exposure in Scottish blood donors between March and May 2020

ISARIC4C Investigators

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The progression and geographical distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in the United Kingdom (UK) and elsewhere is unknown because typically only symptomatic individuals are diagnosed. We performed a serological study of blood donors in Scotland in the spring of 2020 to detect neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 as a marker of past infection and epidemic progression. Aim: Our objective was to determine if sera from blood bank donors can be used to track the emergence and progression of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. Methods: A pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 virus microneutralisation assay was used to detect neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. The study comprised samples from 3,500 blood donors collected in Scotland between 17 March and 18 May 2020. Controls were collected from 100 donors in Scotland during 2019. Results: All samples collected on 17 March 2020 (n=500) were negative in the pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 virus microneutralisation assay. Neutralising antibodies were detected in six of 500 donors from 23 to 26 March. The number of samples containing neutralising antibodies did not significantly rise after 5-6 April until the end of the study on 18 May. We found that infections were concentrated in certain postcodes, indicating that outbreaks of infection were extremely localised. In contrast, other areas remained comparatively untouched by the epidemic. Conclusion: Although blood donors are not representative of the overall population, we demonstrated that serosurveys of blood banks can serve as a useful tool for tracking the emergence and progression of an epidemic such as the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000685
JournalEurosurveillance
Volume25
Issue number42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MG Semple, P Klenerman, and P Simmonds are affiliated to the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford [award number NIHR200907]. The work was also supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the MRC, NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or Public Health England.

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the Georg and Emily Opel Foundation. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council [grant number MC_PC_19059]. National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre Funding Scheme (to G.R.S.), the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) Innovation Fund for Medical Science (CIFMS), China (grant number: 2018-I2M-2-002) and the Schmidt Foundation. PK, PS and G.R.S. is supported as a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator (grant 095541/A/11/Z; WT109965/MA). PK is an NIHR Senior Investigator. NG was supported via grant to Philip Goulder (WTIA Grant WT104748MA) and a grant to John Frater (Medical Research Council MR/L006588/1). CPT was funded by an ERC research grant ‘UNIFLUVAC’ and two MRC CiC grants (Ref: BR00140). LNL is supported by a CRUK Cancer Immunology Award (C30332/A23521) to PK.The funders played no role in the design, execution or reporting of the study. RP also supported by funds provided under Professor RW Snow’s Wellcome Trust Principal Fellowship (# 212176). ALM is funded by a NIHR Research Capability Funding grant.

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the help and collaboration of many SNBTS staff for provision and preparation of samples (anonymous archive and recent donation samples). We acknowledge the wider support of ISARIC4C. This work was supported by the Georg and Emily Opel Foundation. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council [grant number MC_PC_19059]. National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre Funding Scheme (to G.R.S.), the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) Innovation Fund for Medical Science (CIFMS), China (grant number: 2018-I2M-2-002) and the Schmidt Foundation. PK, PS and G.R.S. is supported as a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator (grant 095541/A/11/Z; WT109965/MA). PK is an NIHR Senior Investigator. NG was supported via grant to Philip Goulder (WTIA Grant WT104748MA) and a grant to John Frater (Medical Research Council MR/L006588/1). CPT was funded by an ERC research grant ?UNIFLUVAC? and two MRC CiC grants (Ref: BR00140). LNL is supported by a CRUK Cancer Immunology Award (C30332/A23521) to PK.The funders played no role in the design, execution or reporting of the study. RP also supported by funds provided under Professor RW Snow?s Wellcome Trust Principal Fellowship (# 212176). ALM is funded by a NIHR Research Capability Funding grant. MG Semple, P Klenerman, and P Simmonds are affiliated to the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford [award number NIHR200907]. The work was also supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the MRC, NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or Public Health England.

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