Journal des essais cliniques

Journal des essais cliniques
Libre accès

ISSN: 2167-0870


Feasibility of Establishing a Return-to-Work Protocol Based on COVID-19 Antibodies Testing

Gerard Job*, Jennifer Okungbowa-Ikponmwosa, Yijia M

Introduction: Prior to the diagnosis of the first SARS-CoV-2 patient in Florida, the Miami Dade Fire Rescue developed and implemented its return-to-work protocol based on guidelines from the CDC and Florida Fire Chiefs Association. As of February 17th, 2020, all asymptomatic employees exposed to PCR-confirmed positive SARS-CoV-2 individuals would be excluded from work for 14 days and report absence of symptoms to a delegated supervisor every 24 hours. We postulated that if COVID-19 transmission rate continues at the current rate in the absence of systemic vaccination strategy for SARS-CoV-2, then a safer and more efficient return-to-work policy is needed for exposed first responders who are identified as low-risk for disease transmission.

Objectives: We sought to establish a safe and shortened return-to-work protocol to maintain our workforce. We evaluated the utility of serological antibody testing in predicting negative seroconversion of first responders at 7 days post low-risk exposure to confirmed COVID-19 individuals.

Methods: All exposed, asymptomatic employees underwent serology testing for SARS-CoV-2 one week after the initial exposure. Participants who were serologically negative had follow-up RT-PCR within 24 hours and serology testing 14 days after the initial serological test.

Results: Overall, of the 71 firefighters who have had documented exposures to SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals in the fire rescue agency, 41 of 71 had initially negative serology studies. Of the 41 patients with negative serology studies, 20 voluntarily underwent confirmatory PCR testing within one day after serology testing and all 20 participants were negative.

Subsequently, out of the 20 participants who underwent serology and PCR testing, 10 participants followed up and underwent repeat serology testing 14 days after exposure and all 10 participants had negative repeat serology tests. The other ten who chose not to retest remained asymptomatic 14 days after exposure.

Conclusion: Although serology testing has limitations, it correlated with negative prediction of disease in low-risk participants with exposures in this study. Serology testing may offer a feasible, alternative return-to-work strategy for fire agencies.