20210504 Wolf M paper photo

COVID-19 serological survey using micro blood sampling

COVID-19 serological survey using micro blood sampling

Sci Rep. 2021 May 4; 11(1):9475.
doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-88850-z


Matthews MM, Kim TG, Shibata S, Shibata N, Butcher C, Hyun J, Kim KY, Robb T, Jheng SS, Narita M, Mori T, Collins M, Wolf M.


During August 2020, we carried out a serological survey among students and employees at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan, testing for the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. We used a FDA-authorized 2-step ELISA protocol in combination with at-home self-collection of blood samples using a custom low-cost finger prick-based capillary blood collection kit. Although our survey did not find any COVID-19 seropositive individuals among the OIST cohort, it reliably detected all positive control samples obtained from a local hospital and excluded all negatives controls. We found that high serum antibody titers can persist for more than 9 months post infection. Among our controls, we found strong cross-reactivity of antibodies in samples from a serum pool from two MERS patients in the anti-SARS-CoV-2-S ELISA. Here we show that a centralized ELISA in combination with patient-based capillary blood collection using as little as one drop of blood can reliably assess the seroprevalence among communities. Anonymous sample tracking and an integrated website created a stream-lined procedure. Major parts of the workflow were automated on a liquid handler, demonstrating scalability. We anticipate this concept to serve as a prototype for reliable serological testing among larger populations.