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SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in 1170 asymptomatic Norwegian youths
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  • Einar Kristian| Borud,
  • Espen Nakstad,
  • Siri E Håberg,
  • Andreas Lind,
  • Elin Anita Fadum,
  • Arne Michael Taxt,
  • Anneke Steens,
  • Gaute Gjein,
  • Magne Wiken Sunde,
  • Petter Iversen,
  • Marius Svanevik,
  • Babar Mushtaq Ahmad,
  • Thomas Waldow,
  • Arne Johan Norheim
Einar Kristian| Borud
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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Espen Nakstad
Oslo University Hospital
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Siri E Håberg
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
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Andreas Lind
Oslo University Hospital
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Elin Anita Fadum
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Arne Michael Taxt
Oslo University Hospital
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Anneke Steens
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
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Gaute Gjein
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Magne Wiken Sunde
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Petter Iversen
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Marius Svanevik
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Babar Mushtaq Ahmad
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Thomas Waldow
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Arne Johan Norheim
Norwegian Armed Forces
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Abstract

Background Accurate estimates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in different population groups are important for the health authorities. In Norway, public infection control measures have successfully curbed the pandemic. Military training and service are incompatible with these measures, and therefore stricter infection control measures were necessary in the Norwegian Armed Forces. We present the measures, and discuss the results and their value. We report on the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and the changes in antibody levels over six weeks. Methods In April 2020, 1170 healthy conscripts (median age 20 years) were enrolled. The infection control measures included a pre-enrollment telephone interview and self-imposed quarantine. Questionnaire data and serial SARS-CoV-2 PCR and serology testing were used to estimate the incidence of confirmed SARS-CoV-2, describe symptoms and monitor titer levels over a six week period. Results The seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 was 0. 6 %. Only 0. 2 % had a positive PCR for SARS-CoV-2 at the enrollment day. Serological titer levels increased up to nearly five-fold over the observation period. Eighteen conscripts reported mild respiratory symptoms during the 14 days prior to enrollment (all were PCR negative, one had positive serology), whereas 17 conscripts reported respiratory symptoms and nine had fever at the day of enrollment (all were PCR and serology negative). Conclusions The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in young adults in Norway is less than 1%. Testing of asymptomatic conscripts seems of no value in times of low COVID-19 prevalence. SARS-CoV-2 antibody titer levels increased substantially over time in youths with mild symptoms.