Austrian SARS-CoV-2 school monitoring project releases first data set

Coronavirus school monitoring

Michael Wagner is coordinating the Austrian SARS-CoV-2 school monitoring project that is performed in collaboration between the Medical University of Graz, the Medical University of Innsbruck, the University of Linz, the University of Vienna and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. In this project a representative cohort encompassing up to 15.000 pupils and teachers from up to 250 Austrian schools is analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 via gargling and subsequent Rt-qPCR (multiple PCR tests are performed in parallel to exclude false positive results). The results of the first measurement round revealed that within the measurement period (Sep-Oct 2020) the dark figure in this cohort was 0.39%. In contrast to widespread speculations, no statistically significant difference in prevalence was found between children that are 6-10 years old and children that are 11-14 years old. Teachers were slightly more often infected with SARS-CoV-2 than the tested children, but the difference was not significant. Importantly, schools with many socially disadvantaged children had a much higher likelihood of infections. 

The second round of the school testing was started in November. Due to the lockdown it will be completed after the Christmas holidays. In total, 10 measurement rounds are planned throughout the school year.