15% of the 4,000 professionals of Humanitas came into contact with Coronavirus. This is what emerges from the epidemiological study conducted by the hospital group on its professionals in Lombardy structures, based on serological tests and, in the case of positive IgG, on the swab. Doctors, nurses, social and health workers, technicians but also staff have been involved.
“The study – explains Alberto Mantovani, scientific director of Humanitas – aims to contribute to the development of knowledge on the antibody response and the correlation between it and protection from the virus. A job that stands out for its size and because it is dedicated to a specific population such as the hospital population. It emerges that the hospital, if well protected, can be a safe place for patients and those who work there. The data also show how the spread of the virus among the staff of the various structures is in line with the situation in the territory they belong to “.
The scientific community will be able to immediately dispose of the data in open access mode, pending publication in a scientific journal. The study, on a voluntary basis, involved first of all a blood sampling for the research of IgG antibodies, the more “ancient” ones, which if they exist show an exposure to Covid-19 of a few weeks before. In the event of positivity, a pharyngeal swab was carried out to scan for the virus at that time. The first phase of the study ends in May. But everything will be repeated three more times: in August and November 2020, and finally in May 2021.
The structures in the most affected areas are most exposed
Virus exposure rates vary widely from structure to structure. They range from 3% of Humanitas Medical Care in Varese (one of the Lombard provinces least affected by Covid-19) to 43% of Humanitas Bergamo, where Gavezzeni has been transformed from the beginning of the emergency into Covid hospital with 250 beds dedicated. The study was also conducted at Humanitas in Rozzano (300 beds for Covid patients) and Mater Domini in Castellanza (75 beds), and together with Gavezzeni they were the most exposed to the virus; and then at San Pio X in Milan and in the Medical Care of Milan and Varese.
Little difference between those who work from home and those in the hospital
“From the study – continues Professor Rescigno – it emerges that the percentage of identical positivity between health workers (doctors and nurses) who have been at the forefront against the virus and staff staff, who mostly worked from home in smart working, suggests that the spread of the virus occurred mostly outside hospitals. This is reinforced by the high percentage of professionals (32%) who have been in direct contact with family members affected by Covid-19 “.
The highest number of positives is registered among women (14% compared to 11% of men), while exposure to the virus varies according to age, decreasing in the female sex with increasing deli years. On the other hand, men register a peak of positivity between 40 and 50 years. Among the IgG positive people, the percentage of asymptomatic is 10%, higher (20%) than those who have had one or two symptoms (paucisymptomatic) mostly loss of smell and / or taste and fever.
No “immune license” guaranteed
“The project – adds Alberto Mantovani – represents an original contribution to research for the fight against Covid-19. It does not aim to provide the so-called immune license because at the current state of knowledge nobody can assure that a person will not get sick, or will readmit Covid-19 based on the presence of antibodies. ” It therefore remains essential, even for those who participated in the study, to follow the responsible behaviors suggested by the regional Health Authorities, such as maintaining social distance and wearing a mask.
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“The importance of the study – concludes Professor Mantovani – is linked to the fact that it will allow, thanks to the subsequent stages, to clarify the relationship between the different levels of antibodies and the resistance to the virus, helping us to define the quantity of antibodies necessary for have effective protection in the field. It will also allow you to understand how long the response and immunological memory last and, therefore, the possible protection “.