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A study at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust has revealed the different levels of risk faced by healthcare workers dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

An outside view of the West Wing, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

In a major collaboration with the University of Oxford, almost 10,000 staff were tested both for presence of the virus responsible for COVID-19 and antibodies to the virus. In combination these tests give an accurate view of who has had coronavirus infection to date in the OUH workforce.

There have been many studies looking at COVID-19 in healthcare workers, but this study, released today in a medRxiv preprint, is the first to comprehensively investigate all staff groups across an institution, and combines data from both symptomatic and asymptomatic staff testing programmes. The programme was able to 

  • identify and isolate staff members who had the infection before they developed symptoms, preventing them passing infection on to other staff and patients
  • identify in which areas of the hospital staff were at greatest risk 
  • identify which staff groups were at greatest risk 
  • record which staff have antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, enabling these staff to be monitored to understand if these antibodies provide immunity against repeat infections.

Based on the findings of the testing, OUH was able to implement an infection prevention and control plan to limit transmission of the virus.

The full story is available on the Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust website