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Topics in Antiviral Medicine ; 30(1 SUPPL):300-301, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1880872


Background: South Africa is one of the African countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence surveys provide valuable epidemiological information given the existence of asymptomatic cases. We report the findings of the first nationwide household-based population estimates of SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence among people aged 12 years and older in South Africa. Methods: The survey used a cross-sectional multi-stage stratified cluster design undertaken over two separate time periods (November 2020-February 2021 and April-June 2021) which coincided with the second and third waves of the pandemic in South Africa. The Abbott® and Euroimmun® ani-SARS CoV-2 antibody assays were used to test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, the latter being the final result. The survey data was weighted with final individual weights benchmarked against 2020 mid-year population estimates by age, race, sex, and province. Frequencies were used to describe characteristics of the study population and SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence. Bivariate and multivariate logistics regression analysis were used to identify factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity. Results: 13640 participants gave a blood sample. The SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence using the Euroimmun assay was 19.6% (95% CI 17.9-21.3) over the study period, translating to an estimated 8 675 265 (95% CI 7 508 393-9 842 137) estimated infections among people aged 12 years and older across South Africa by June 2021. Seroprevalence was higher in the Free State (26.8%), and Eastern Cape (26.0%) provinces (Figure). Increased odds of seropositivity were associated with prior PCR testing [aOR=1.29 (95% CI: 0.99-1.66)], being female [aOR=1.28 (95% CI 1.00-1.64), p=0.048] and hypertension, [aOR=1.28 (95% CI 1.00-1.640, p=0.048]. Conclusion: These findings highlight the burden of infection in South Africa by June 2021, and support testing strategies that focus on individuals with known exposure or symptoms since universal testing is not feasible. Females and younger people were more likely to be infected suggesting need for additional strategies targeting these populations. The estimated number of infections was 6.5 times higher than the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases reported nationally, suggesting that the country's testing strategy and capacity partly explain the dynamics of the pandemic. It is therefore essential to bolster testing capacity and to rapidly scale up vaccinations in order to contain the spread of the virus in the country.

Topics in Antiviral Medicine ; 30(1 SUPPL):332, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1880610


Background: Accurate and reliable serological assays are essential for epidemiological surveillance of SARS-CoV-2. Several commercial anti-SARS assays are available and use cases for serological testing includes surveillance. However, there is growing evidence of varying performance of SARS-CoV-2 assays dependent of their format. We compare the performance of 3 different assays used in a national serosurvey undertaken between April and June 2021, in South Africa before widescale vaccination roll out. Methods: Venous blood samples from participants ≥12 years were transported under cold chain to a central testing laboratory within 24 hours of collection. Samples were tested for SARS CoV-2 antibodies with the Abbott nucleocapsid (NC)-based Architect anti-SARS CoV-2 chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay (CMIA), the EuroImmun Spike (S)-based assay and the Roche total IgG NC-based Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA) on the Cobas e411 platform. We compared antibody detection proportions. Results: 8146 participants (median age 40 years, IQR 26-55) 5.6% of whom reported ≥1 SARS-CoV-2 symptom in the preceding 3 months gave a blood sample. Samples were tested on the Abbott assay with different cut-offs:-15.5% tested positive at the 1.40 cut-off and 26.8% at the 0.49 lower cut-off. 21.6% of the samples tested positive on the Euroimmun and 39.0% tested positive on the Roche assay (Table). 286 samples were from respondents self-reporting a prior positive PCR test, and among them 149(52.1%), 156(54.6%), and 206(72.3%) were positive on the Abbott (1.40 cut-off), Euroimmun and Roche assays respectively. 116/286(40.6%) of these were positive on all three assays and with 21(7.3%) positive on Roche only. 224/286(78.3%) of those reporting prior PCR test positivity were positive at the lower Abbott cut-off, with 47(16.4%) positive on Abbott only. Conclusion: These samples collected before wide scale vaccination roll out in South Africa show variable performance of these assays with the Roche NC assay detecting more infections that both the Abbott NC assay(0.40 cut-off) and the Euroimmun S assay.This could be reflective of seroreversion previously reported with Abbott and Euroimmun, and the greater sensitivity of Roche assay targeting the more abundant NC as an epitope. Use of direct, double Antigen-sandwich-based assays that are stable and have increased sensitivity over time may be optimal to detect both natural and vaccine-induced immunity in serosurveys.

S Afr Med J ; 110(11): 1119-1123, 2020 10 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-922937


BACKGROUND: On 26 March 2020, the South African (SA) government initiated a 21-day national level 5 lockdown which was subsequently eased off and downgraded to level 4 on 1 May and to level 3 on 1 June. The effect of lockdown measures on SARS-CoV-2 infectivity is currently uncertain. In this article, we analyse the effects of the lockdown measures on the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in one of the epicentres in SA. OBJECTIVES: To measure the effects of lockdown measures introduced in SA on SARS-CoV-2 attack rates (ARs, the percentage of individuals who tested positive in a specified time period) in Gauteng Province during a 4-month period (March - June 2020). METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study, we used a comprehensive database from an independent pathology laboratory in Gauteng. We analysed trends of positivity rates of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests done during the 4-month period. The ARs are reported over time (unweighted and age-weighted 14-day moving averages) by age groups, gender, and different regions/districts in Gauteng. RESULTS: A total of 162 528 tests were performed at a private laboratory between 5 March and 30 June 2020, of which 20 574 were positive (overall AR 12.7%). These positive tests constituted 44.8% of all positive cases in the province (20 574/45 944). Sixty-two percent of all tests were done in June during lockdown level 3. There was an exponential increase in the AR in June (18.3%) when lockdown was eased to level 3, in comparison with 4.2% (March), 2.2% (April) and 3.3% (May). The increase in June was seen in all the age groups, although it was more pronounced in the 21 - 60 years age groups than the younger (0 - 20 years) and older (>60 years) age groups. The AR was significantly higher in males (13.2%) compared with females (12.1%) (χ2 test, p<0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study testify to the rapid increase in ARs resulting from easing of the lockdown regulations, especially to level 3 in June. Of concern is the upward trend in the AR across all age groups, especially <20 years (15.9%), which was not reported in other parts of the world. Population age dynamics should therefore be considered when taking future decisions about lockdown regulations.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , Child , Child, Preschool , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Incidence , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Middle Aged , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology , Young Adult