Kidney Medicine Journal

SARS-CoV-2 Seropositivity Rates in Patients and Clinical Staff in New York City Dialysis Facilities: Association With the General Population.

Ohnmar Thwin, Nadja Grobe, Leticia M Tapia Silva, Xiaoling Ye, Hanjie Zhang, Yuedong Wang, Peter Kotanko

There are concerns that in-center maintenance hemodialysis (HD) patients may have higher risk for infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) because they take 3 or more round-trips a week to dialysis centers and spend several hours during dialysis close to fellow patients and clinic staff. This concern is supported by data from dialysis facilities in London, United Kingdom.1

During the first wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), New York City was one of the worst affected regions in the United States. Starting in August 2020, the New York City Department of Health has published regularly updated seropositivity rates for the general population for most 5-digit zip code areas.2 This allowed us to link zip code area seroprevalence data with results of 2 cross-sectional serosurveillance projects conducted in in-center maintenance HD patients and clinic staff in Manhattan dialysis facilities.

Between June and September 2020, we conducted a quality improvement project and an institutional review board (IRB)-approved clinical research study (Western IRB protocol # 20201875) to assess the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in in-center maintenance HD patients and clinic staff. The quality improvement project was approved by the clinic governing bodies and underwent legal and compliance review. Verbal consent was obtained from all patients. Written informed consent was obtained from staff before blood sampling. Blood samples were obtained and analyzed for immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM antibodies by Spectra Laboratories (Rockleigh, NJ) using the emergency use authorized kits with reported specificity and sensitivity of 98.7% and 100%.3

About the Contributors

Nadja Grobe, MS, PhD

Supervisor, Laboratory Research

Nadja received her MS and PhD in biochemistry from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. Prior to joining RRI in 2017, she gained more than 10 years of experience in guiding and implementing chemistry, biochemistry, and biomedical-focused research teams in nonprofit, academia, and government. Her previous research has been funded by the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Society of Nephrology.

Dr. Peter Kotanko, MD

RRI Research Director

SVP, Corporate Research & Development

Peter Kotanko, MD, is Research Director at the Renal Research Institute (RRI), New York. Prior to joining RRI, from 1997 to 2007 he served as vice chair of a department of internal medicine at an academic teaching hospital in Graz, Austria. Prior to moving to Graz in 1989, he worked from 1982 to 1989 in the Department of Physiology and the University Clinic of Internal Medicine in Innsbruck, Austria. From 1995 to 1996 he trained in nephrology at the Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

Xiaoling (Janice) Ye, MPH, PhD

Principal Research Scientist

Xiaoling (Janice) Ye, MPH, PhD, is a Principal Research Scientist at Renal Research Institute. Janice holds a B.E. Degree in Pharmaceutical Engineering from the University of Traditional Medicine in Guangzhou, China, Master’s Degree in Epidemiology from Tulane University in New Orleans, and PhD, in Medical Science and Nephrology from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. She has over 8 years of experience in traditional and advanced data analytics, research, and epidemiology in the health care industries, in both academic and industry settings. 

Hanjie Zhang, MSc, PhD

Supervisor of Biostatistics and Applied Artificial Intelligence /Machine Learning

Hanjie joined RRI in 2014. She received a master’s degree in statistics from Columbia University, New York, and a PhD in medical science from the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands. Hanjie has been involved in the design of several large cluster-randomized clinical trials and complex statistical analyses in collaboration with the Medical Office, FMCNA...