The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research, NIMR, and their partners are conducting household surveys in Lagos, Gombe, Enugu, and Nasarawa States towards having a better understanding of the burden of the COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
Disclosing the development in a statement jointly signed by the NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, and the Director-General of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako, said that the surveys will be conducted between September and November, while preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.
The seroprevalence surveys are expected to provide the best evidence yet on the extent of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
Seroprevalence surveys are routinely used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease.
The statement said the procedure includes testing blood samples in randomly selected households in selected states. During the seroprevalence survey, household members will answer a brief questionnaire, be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, as well as for acute COVID-19, if they consent.
In addition to this, study participants will also have a rapid malaria test and receive treatment if the test is positive.
“This is the first set of household surveys to be conducted for COVID-19 in Nigeria and as part of ongoing public health research activities. 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.
“This information will help inform COVID-19 response decisions by the Government of Nigeria 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. Through this, the country can identify risk factors for infection and measure the transmission of COVID-19 within households.
“By administering rapid malaria tests, the surveys will also assess malaria infections and their possible relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The results from these surveys will inform the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.”
The statement said 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 NIMR in implementing these surveys.
“The US CDC’s implementing partner, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), will also support the State Ministries of Health with implementation,” the statement noted.