In December 2019, the People’s Republic of China and the World Health Organization first reported on a cluster of pneumonia with an unknown cause. Nine months later more than 1.4 million people have died from COVID 19. In this work, the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on five nursing homes in Austria, which cared for 889 residents in the first half of 2020, were examined. The research question was whether the measures taken were appropriate to prevent an outbreak within the individual facilities. To detect previously unrecognized infections, the present study evaluated the prevalence of neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in residents and employees of the nursing homes. Following the analysis of blood samples, the prospectively collected data was connected to data from screening examinations and data from contact tracing. The present study demonstrated an overall prevalence of neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in nursing homes of 3.7%. Whereas the prevalence in those facilities that have never been hit by an outbreak is 0%, the prevalence in those facilities with an outbreak is up to 4.9%. Neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were detected in 35 persons. A retrospective analysis of all 5 included nursing homes demonstrated that upon regular clinical screening in combination with PCRs an infection with SARS-COV-2 was detected in 66 residents and 24 employees from different professional groups. In only 25 of the 35 persons with neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 an infection was proven in advance. This study suggests that specific measures can prevent transmission within a health care facility. Nevertheless, the results also show that a risk reduction to 0% cannot be achieved. In preparation for further pandemic waves there is still the need to reduce the probability of a transmission in nursing homes with specific test strategies.
Read full text: Harald Willschke,Thomas Wochele-Thoma,Atanas G. Atanasov, et al. Can We Protect Those We Care for in A Pandemic? – Prevalence of Neutralizing Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in Nursing Homes[J]. Aging and disease, 10.14336/AD.2021.0217