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Nearly one-fifth of Tallaght hospital staff found to have coronavirus antibodies

12% of participants had already tested positive for Covid-19 before this study.

Image: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

CORONAVIRUS ANTIBODIES WERE identified in nearly 20% of staff at Tallaght University Hospital, a study has found.

Almost 1,200 people volunteered to take part in the study carried out by the hospital.

This represents one-third of staff. Participation was open to people working in all departments in the hospital.

Of these, 18% showed coronavirus antibodies. The study was undertaken between mid-July and mid-October. 

For staff working in more direct contact with patients, the detection rate was 20% and the rate was 13% for people with less direct patient contact. 

12% of the participants had been diagnosed with Covid-19 at some point after a swab test before taking part in the study. 

When this cohort of people were excluded, the overall percentage of those confirmed to have been infected was 7.5% and over half of these suspected they had been infected at some point. 

Commenting on the study, consultant microbiologist Dr Anna Rose Prior said the results show that a “high proportion of Covid infection in healthcare workers goes undetected”. 

The latest report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre showed that healthcare workers account for 21.8% of all Covid-19 cases in Ireland.

A HSE study on Covid-19 antibodies in Irish people with results up to mid-July found that 1.7% of people had Covid-19 antibodies. 

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The study was based on random testing of 1,733 people aged 12 to 69 years in Sligo and Dublin for Covid-19 antibodies.

Participants

The Tallaght study was open to all hospital staff including doctors, nurses, lab assistants, social workers, cleaning staff and electricians. 

The study will last 12 months so antibody levels will continue to be tested at different times for willing participants. 

This length of time is aimed to help identify how long antibodies remain present in people and also to determine how many more staff will develop antibodies over the course of the pandemic. 

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