The Nigerian government has announced that it will be conducting a seroprevalence survey to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in the country.
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known at the bi-weekly Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday in Abuja.
He said the household survey will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos states to provide accurate evidence on the extent of COVID-19 infection in the country.
“These seroprevalence surveys, which will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos States will provide the best evidence yet, on the extent of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria,” he said.
Seroprevalence surveys are used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease. This is done by testing blood samples in randomly selected households in selected states.
The deadly COVID-19 virus which first emerged in Wuhan, China in December, 2019 has affected over 31 million people globally, data on worldometers shows.
Nigeria has recorded 57, 242 cases of COVID-19 and over 1,000 deaths from the virus.
The NCDC chief said the survey will be conducted between September and November and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.
He noted that household members in the selected states will answer a brief questionnaire followed by a test for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies.
“This will however be done with their consent,” he said.
He said the outcome of the surveys will “increase the current understanding of COVID-19 transmission patterns, the burden of infection in the population, and the age groups most affected”.
Mr Ihekweazu said the result will inform COVID-19 response decisions by the Nigerian government and partners as part of measures towards ending the pandemic.
“The surveys will also estimate the proportion of people who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms i.e. asymptomatic,” he said.
The NCDC chief noted that the survey participants will also have a rapid malaria test and receive treatment if the test is positive.
He said by administering rapid malaria tests, the surveys will also assess malaria infections and their possible relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
PREMIUM TIMES understands that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the University College London (supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) are supporting NCDC and the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in implementing these surveys.
The US CDC’s implementing partner, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), will also support the state ministries of heath with implementation.