Background: Most biomedical research has focused on sampling COVID-19 patients presenting to hospital with advanced disease, with less focus on the asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic. We established a bioresource with serial sampling of health care workers (HCWs) designed to obtain samples before and during mainly mild disease, with follow-up sampling to evaluate the quality and duration of immune memory.
Methods: We conducted a prospective study on HCWs from three hospital sites in London, initially at a single centre (recruited just prior to first peak community transmission in London), but then extended to multiple sites 3 weeks later (recruitment still ongoing, target n=1,000). Asymptomatic participants attending work complete a health questionnaire, and provide a nasal swab (for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by RT-PCR tests) and blood samples (mononuclear cells, serum, plasma, RNA and DNA are biobanked) at 16 weekly study visits, and at 6 and 12 months.
Results: Preliminary baseline results for the first 731 HCWs (400 single-centre, 331 multicentre extension) are presented. Mean age was 38±11 years; 67% are female, 31% nurses, 20% doctors, and 19% work in intensive care units. COVID-19-associated risk factors were: 37% black, Asian or minority ethnicities; 18% smokers; 13% obesity; 11% asthma; 7% hypertension and 2% diabetes mellitus. At baseline, 41% reported symptoms in the preceding 2 weeks. Preliminary test results from the initial cohort (n=400) are available: PCR at baseline for SARS-CoV-2 was positive in 28 of 396 (7.1%, 95% CI 4.9-10.0%) and 15 of 385 (3.9%, 2.4-6.3%) had circulating IgG antibodies.
Conclusions: This COVID-19 bioresource established just before the peak of infections in the UK will provide longitudinal assessments of incident infection and immune responses in HCWs through the natural time course of disease and convalescence. The samples and data from this bioresource are available to academic collaborators by application https://covid-consortium.com/application-for-samples/.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: : MN is supported by Wellcome (Investigator in Science Award 207511; 218274) and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (UCLH). Funding for the work presented was donated by individuals, charitable Trusts, and corporations including Goldman Sachs, Citadel and Citadel Securities, The Guy Foundation, GW Pharmaceuticals, Kusuma Trust, and Jagclif Charitable Trust. JCM and CM are directly and indirectly supported by the University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and Barts NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and through British Heart Foundation (BHF) Accelerator Award. TAT is funded by a BHF Intermediate Research Fellowship (FS/19/35/34374). AS is supported by a BHF Clinical Research Training Fellowship. MB by the Barts NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, and AM by the Rosetrees Trust, Medical College of Saint Bartholomew's Hospital Trust. JBA received funding from Sanofi. RR is partly funded by the Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North Thames. RhHD was funded through the CAP-AI program by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund and Barts Charity. PG is partly funded by the Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wexssex. Staff was provided by St Bartholomew Hospital. National amyloidosis Centre (Royal Free Hospital) Blizard staff at The School of Medicine and Dentistry to support the study. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Open Access: l. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Augusto JB et al.
Citation: Augusto JB, Menacho K, Andiapen M et al. Healthcare Workers Bioresource: Study outline and baseline characteristics of a prospective healthcare worker cohort to study immune protection and pathogenesis in COVID-19 [version 2; peer review: 1 approved, 2 approved with reservations] Wellcome Open Research 2020, 5:179
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