Monitoring the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: Prevalence of Antibodies in a Large, Repetitive Cross-Sectional Study of Blood Donors in Germany—Results from the SeBluCo Study 2020–2022

Ruth Offergeld*, Karina Preußel, Thomas Zeiler, Konstanze Aurich, Barbara I. Baumann-Baretti, Sandra Ciesek, Victor M. Corman, Viktoria Dienst, Christian Drosten, Siegfried Görg, Andreas Greinacher, Marica Grossegesse, Sebastian Haller, Hans Gert Heuft, Natalie Hofmann, Peter A. Horn, Claudia Houareau, Ilay Gülec, Carlos Luis Jiménez Klingberg, David JuhlMonika Lindemann, Silke Martin, Hannelore K. Neuhauser, Andreas Nitsche, Julia Ohme, Sven Peine, Ulrich J. Sachs, Lars Schaade, Richard Schäfer, Heinrich Scheiblauer, Martin Schlaud, Michael Schmidt, Markus Umhau, Tanja Vollmer, Franz F. Wagner, Lothar H. Wieler, Hendrik Wilking, Malte Ziemann, Marlow Zimmermann, Matthias an der Heiden

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


SARS-CoV-2 serosurveillance is important to adapt infection control measures and estimate the degree of underreporting. Blood donor samples can be used as a proxy for the healthy adult population. In a repeated cross-sectional study from April 2020 to April 2021, September 2021, and April/May 2022, 13 blood establishments collected 134,510 anonymised specimens from blood donors in 28 study regions across Germany. These were tested for antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and nucleocapsid, including neutralising capacity. Seroprevalence was adjusted for test performance and sampling and weighted for demographic differences between the sample and the general population. Seroprevalence estimates were compared to notified COVID-19 cases. The overall adjusted SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence remained below 2% until December 2020 and increased to 18.1% in April 2021, 89.4% in September 2021, and to 100% in April/May 2022. Neutralising capacity was found in 74% of all positive specimens until April 2021 and in 98% in April/May 2022. Our serosurveillance allowed for repeated estimations of underreporting from the early stage of the pandemic onwards. Underreporting ranged between factors 5.1 and 1.1 in the first two waves of the pandemic and remained well below 2 afterwards, indicating an adequate test strategy and notification system in Germany.

Original languageEnglish
Article number551
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 04.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 204-05 Immunology

Coronavirus related work

  • Research on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19

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