A multidimensional cross-sectional analysis of COVID-19 seroprevalence among a police officer cohort: The PoliCOV-19 study

Sendi, Parham; Baldan, Rossella; Thierstein, Marc; Widmer, Nadja; Gowland, Peter; Gahl, Brigitta; Büchi, Annina Elisabeth; Güntensperger, Dominik; Wider, Manon; Blum, Manuel Raphael; Tinguely, Caroline; Maillat, Cédric; Theel, Elitza S; Berbari, Elie; Dijkman, Ronald; Niederhauser, Christoph (2021). A multidimensional cross-sectional analysis of COVID-19 seroprevalence among a police officer cohort: The PoliCOV-19 study. Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 8(12), ofab524. Oxford University Press 10.1093/ofid/ofab524

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Protests and police fieldwork provides a high exposure environment for SARS-CoV-2 infections. In this cross-sectional analysis, we investigated the seroprevalence among a police cohort, and sociodemographic, work and health-related factors associated with seropositivity.


Study participants were invited for serological testing of SARS-CoV-2 and to complete online questionnaires. Serum neutralization titres towards the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (expressing D614G) and the alpha and beta variants were measured in seropositive study participants.


978 police personnel representing 35% of the entire staff participated from February to March 2021. The seroprevalence was 12.9%. It varied by geographic region within the canton; ranged from 9% to 13.5% in three regions, including the city; and was 22% in Bernese Seeland/Jura with higher odds for seropositivity (OR 2.38, 95% CI 1.28–4.44, P=0.006). Job roles with mainly office activity were associated with a lower risk of seropositivity (0.33, 0.14–0.77, P=0.010). Most seropositive employees (67.5%) reported having had COVID-19 three months or longer prior to serological testing. Selfreported compliance with mask wearing during working hours was 100%; 45% of all seropositive versus 5% of all seronegative participants (P<0.001) reported having had contact with a proven COVID-19 case living in the same household prior to serological testing. The level of serum antibody titres correlated with neutralization capacity. Antibodies derived from natural SARS-CoV-2 infection effectively neutralized the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, but were less effective against the alpha and beta variants.


The seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies of police officers was comparable to that reported in the general population, suggesting that the personal protective equipment of the police is effective, and that household contacts are the leading transmission venues. The level of serum antibody titres, in particular that of anti-spike antibodies, correlated well with neutralization capacity. Low antibody titres acquired from natural infection were not effective against variants.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases > Research
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > University Emergency Center
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Infectiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases
04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute of General Practice and Primary Care (BIHAM)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > CTU Bern
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of General Internal Medicine (DAIM) > Clinic of General Internal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Sendi, Parham, Baldan, Rossella, Gahl, Brigitta, Büchi, Annina Elisabeth, Güntensperger, Dominik Bruno, Licheri, Manon Flore, Blum, Manuel, Dijkman, Ronald, Niederhauser-Lüthi, Christoph Peter


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Oxford University Press




Parham Sendi

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2021 10:45

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:35

Publisher DOI:






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