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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Infection Fatality Rate Among Elderly Danes: A Cross-sectional Study on Retired Blood Donors

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BACKGROUND: Although the vast majority of individuals succumbing to infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are elderly, infection fatality rate (IFR) estimates for the age group ≥70 years are still scarce. To this end, we assessed SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence among retired blood donors and combined it with national coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) survey data to provide reliable population-based IFR estimates for this age group.

METHODS: We identified 60 926 retired blood donors aged ≥70 years in the rosters of 3 regionwide Danish blood banks and invited them to fill in a questionnaire on COVID-19-related symptoms and behaviors. Among 24 861 (40.8%) responders, we invited a random sample of 3200 individuals for blood testing. Overall, 1201 (37.5%) individuals were tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (Wantai) and compared with 1110 active blood donors aged 17-69 years. Seroprevalence 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were adjusted for assay sensitivity and specificity.

RESULTS: Among retired (aged ≥70 years) and active (aged 17-69 years) blood donors, adjusted seroprevalences were 1.4% (95% CI, .3-2.5%) and 2.5% (95% CI, 1.3-3.8%), respectively. Using available population data on COVID-19-related fatalities, IFRs for patients aged ≥70 years and for 17-69 years were estimated at 5.4% (95% CI, 2.7-6.4%) and .083% (95% CI, .054-.18%), respectively. Only 52.4% of SARS-CoV-2-seropositive retired blood donors reported having been sick since the start of the pandemic.

CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 IFR in the age group >69 years is estimated to be 65 times the IFR for people aged 18-69 years.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)e2962-e2969
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021

    Research areas

  • Aged, Antibodies, Viral, Blood Donors, COVID-19, Cross-Sectional Studies, Denmark, Humans, SARS-CoV-2, Seroepidemiologic Studies

ID: 61694758