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SARS-CoV-2 AK study

Students at the University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions in Upper Austria have to complete numerous internships within the scope of their studies. Especially during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic both their unpaid work as interns and their participation in official antigen-testing activities are of great value for the health care system. Studies have shown that health care workers are at increased risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2. In a proportion of hospital personnel, SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are detectable in the blood even without evidence of Covid-19 disease. Thus, the question arises whether this also occurs in interns.

Term: 01.02.2021 — 30.12.2021

Since March 2020, far-reaching measures for the study operation to minimize the risk of a SARS-CoV-2 infection have been established at the University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions Upper Austria. A one-way system has been introduced in all university buildings, as well as access restrictions. Lectures are still provided online. Only non-substitutable courses are held in presence and in small groups. The low number of infected students indicates the success of this strategy. On the one hand, it is necessary to ensure the study progress, and on the other hand, due to the proximity to hospitals, it is necessary to identify as many sources of infection as possible.

5.7% of Upper Austrians have antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to the Covid-19 prevalence study by Statistik Austria. However, 61% were not officially detected infections. Shields et al. observed that 17.1% (48/ 281) of the health care workers tested had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in their blood but no symptoms in the period studied.

The proportion of asymptomatically infected individuals is not yet sufficiently known. The aim of this project is to show the number of the students at the University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions Upper Austria who are asymptomatically infected with SARS-CoV-2 having IgG antibodies. This prospective epidemiologic study may provide valuable evidence on the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

A random sample of 170 students will be selected for this study. Individuals diagnosed with Covid-19 infection will be excluded. Additional socioeconomic factors, such as age, gender, course of study and if subjects already have undergone a Covid-19 infection or have received a vaccination, will be obtained in the form of a questionnaire and statistically analyzed.

Project Team