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EBioMedicine. 2021 Jul 29;70:103502. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103502. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Since 2020 SARS-CoV-2 spreads pandemically, infecting more than 119 million people, causing >2·6 million fatalities. Symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection vary greatly, ranging from asymptomatic to fatal. Different populations react differently to the disease, making it very hard to track the spread of the infection in a population. Measuring specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is an important tool to assess the spread of the infection or successful vaccinations. To achieve sufficient sample numbers, alternatives to venous blood sampling are needed not requiring medical personnel or cold-chains. Dried-blood-spots (DBS) on filter-cards have been used for different studies, but not routinely for serology.
METHODS: We developed a semi-automated protocol using self-sampled DBS for SARS-CoV-2 serology. It was validated in a cohort of matched DBS and venous-blood samples (n = 1710). Feasibility is demonstrated with two large serosurveys with 10247 company employees and a population cohort of 4465 participants.
FINDINGS: Sensitivity and specificity reached 99·20% and 98·65%, respectively. Providing written instructions and video tutorials, 99·87% (4465/4471) of the unsupervised home sampling DBS cards could be analysed.
INTERPRETATION: DBS-sampling is a valid and highly reliable tool for large scale serosurveys. We demonstrate feasibility and accuracy with a large validation cohort including unsupervised home sampling. This protocol might be of big importance for surveillance in resource-limited settings, providing low-cost highly accurate serology data.
FUNDING: Provided by Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts, LMU University-Hospital; Helmholtz-Centre-Munich, German Ministry for Education and Research (project01KI20271); University of Bonn; University of Bielefeld; the Medical Biodefense Research Program of Bundeswehr-Medical-Service; Euroimmun, RocheDiagnostics provided discounted kits and machines.