Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in children: a prospective multicentre cohort study

Thomas Waterfield, Chris Watson, Rebecca Moore, Kathryn Ferris, Claire Tonry, Alison Watt, Claire McGinn, Steven Foster, Jennifer Evans, Mark David Lyttle, Shazaad Ahmad, Shamez Ladhani, Michael Corr, Lisa McFetridge, Hannah Mitchell, Kevin Brown, Gayatri Amirthalingam, Julie-Ann Maney, Sharon Christie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Studies based on molecular testing of oral/nasal swabs underestimate SARS-CoV-2 infection due to issues with test sensitivity, test timing and selection bias. The objective of this study was to report the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, consistent with previous infection.

DESIGN: This multicentre observational cohort study, conducted between 16 April to 3 July 2020 at 5 UK sites, recruited children of healthcare workers, aged 2-15 years. Participants provided blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing and data were gathered regarding unwell contacts and symptoms.

RESULTS: 1007 participants were enrolled, and 992 were included in the final analysis. The median age of participants was 10·1 years. There were 68 (6.9%) participants with positive SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests indicative of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. Of these, 34/68 (50%) reported no symptoms prior to testing. The presence of antibodies and the mean antibody titre was not influenced by age. Following multivariable analysis four independent variables were identified as significantly associated with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity: known infected household contact OR=10.9 (95% CI 6.1 to 19.6); fatigue OR=16.8 (95% CI 5.5 to 51.9); gastrointestinal symptoms OR=6.6 (95% CI 3.0 to 13.8); and changes in sense of smell or taste OR=10.0 (95% CI 2.4 to 11.4).

DISCUSSION: Children demonstrated similar antibody titres in response to SARS-CoV-2 irrespective of age. Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms and changes in sense of smell or taste were the symptoms most strongly associated with SARS-CoV-1 antibody positivity.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: (trial registration: NCT0434740) on the 15 April 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Article number320558
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
VolumeEarly Online
Early online date10 Nov 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 10 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


Dive into the research topics of 'Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in children: a prospective multicentre cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this