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    Blood donor studies offer a unique opportunity to screen healthy populations for the presence of antibodies to emerging infections. We describe the use of blood donor specimens to track the 'first-wave' of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland. A random selection of donor samples received by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) between February and September 2020 (n = 8,509) were screened by multiple commercial SARs-CoV-2 antibody assays. The antibody detection rate was adjusted to the population to determine the SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in Ireland. SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection rose significantly during the first peak of COVID-19 infection, increasing from 0.3% in March, to 2.9% in April (p < 0.0001, The first SARS-CoV-2 antibody positive donor samples were collected on the 17th February 2020, 2 weeks prior to the first official notification. This is the earliest serological evidence of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the Irish population. Our results also show a significantly higher antibody prevalence in the Capital city and in donors less than 40 years of age. The present study demonstrates evidence of SARS-CoV-2 antibody reactivity across all age groups and counties. The critical value of blood donor seroprevalence studies is apparent in this report which identified the earliest serological evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Ireland, as well as documenting the evolution of COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland over time. Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.)


    Dearbhla Butler, Dermot Coyne, Louise Pomeroy, Pádraig Williams, Paul Holder, Alex Carterson, Stephen Field, Allison Waters, Niamh O'Flaherty. Confirmed circulation of SARS-CoV-2 in Irish blood donors prior to first national notification of infection. Journal of clinical virology : the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology. 2022 Jan;146:105045

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    PMID: 34861600

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