SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence among homeless people and shelter workers in Denmark: a nationwide cross-sectional study

Alexandra R. Röthlin Eriksen*, Kamille Fogh, Rasmus B. Hasselbalch, Henning Bundgaard, Susanne D. Nielsen, Charlotte S. Jørgensen, Bibi F. S. S. Scharff, Christian Erikstrup, Susanne G. Sækmose, Dorte K. Holm, Bitten Aagaard, Jonas H. Kristensen, Cecilie A. Bødker, Jakob B. Norsk, Pernille B. Nielsen, Lars Østergaard, Svend Ellermann-Eriksen, Berit Andersen, Henrik Nielsen, Isik S. JohansenLothar Wiese, Lone Simonsen, Thea. K Fischer, Fredrik Folke, Freddy Lippert, Sisse R. Ostrowski, Steen Ethelberg, Anders Koch, Anne-Marie Vangsted, Tyra Krause, Anders Fomsgaard, Claus Nielsen, Henrik Ullum, Robert Skov, Kasper Iversen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: People experiencing homelessness (PEH) and associated shelter workers may be at higher risk of infection with “Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” (SARS-CoV-2). The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among PEH and shelter workers in Denmark. Design and methods: In November 2020, we conducted a nationwide cross-sectional seroprevalence study among PEH and shelter workers at 21 recruitment sites in Denmark. The assessment included a point-of-care test for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, followed by a questionnaire. The seroprevalence was compared to that of geographically matched blood donors considered as a proxy for the background population, tested using a total Ig ELISA assay. Results: We included 827 participants in the study, of whom 819 provided their SARS-CoV-2 antibody results. Of those, 628 were PEH (median age 50.8 (IQR 40.9–59.1) years, 35.5% female) and 191 were shelter workers (median age 46.6 (IQR 36.1–55.0) years and 74.5% female). The overall seroprevalence was 6.7% and was similar among PEH and shelter workers (6.8% vs 6.3%, p = 0.87); and 12.2% among all participants who engaged in sex work. The overall participant seroprevalence was significantly higher than that of the background population (2.9%, p < 0.001). When combining all participants who reported sex work or were recruited at designated safe havens, we found a significantly increased risk of seropositivity compared to other participants (OR 2.23, 95%CI 1.06–4.43, p = 0.02). Seropositive and seronegative participants reported a similar presence of at least one SARS-CoV-2 associated symptom (49% and 54%, respectively). Interpretations: The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was more than twice as high among PEH and associated shelter workers, compared to the background population. These results could be taken into consideration when deciding in which phase PEH are eligible for a vaccine, as part of the Danish national SARS-CoV-2 vaccination program rollout. Funding: TrygFonden and HelseFonden.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1261
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Homeless Persons
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


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