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Second Phase of COVID-19 Seroprevalence Survey Underway in Nigeria

June 29, 2021 | Andrew Tie

The second phase of a COVID-19 seroprevalence study in Nigeria has begun in Kano State in Northwest Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The survey, which was previously conducted in Enugu, Gombe, Lagos, and Nasarawa States in the first phase of the COVID-19 epidemiological survey completed last fall, will help estimate COVID-19 prevalence across the two new states.

Ciheb received $900,000 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand the COVID-19 study into the second phase. The study is led by Dr. Kristen Stafford, associate professor of epidemiology and public health and Ciheb deputy director, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Dr. Laura Steinhardt, CDC; and Mrs. Elsie Ilori, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The Government of Nigeria, CDC, Ciheb, and other state-level partners are leading the implementation of the survey.

The survey will collect blood samples in 68 enumeration areas and test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Findings from the ongoing study will help public health authorities scale up approaches to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

Study participants are also receiving rapid malaria tests, and those who test positive for malaria receive treatment. Participants who test positive for COVID-19 are referred for free management and care.

A data collector engages with a participant in Kuje in FCT.

The seroprevalence survey will provide an estimate of the number of persons who have had COVID-19. A lot of persons might have had COVID-19 without necessarily knowing that they had it because the symptoms are similar to what people have when they have malaria or other illnesses. So this survey will give a vivid picture of the persons who would have had COVID-19 because we are testing for the antibodies, not for people who have COVID-19 currently.
— Dr. Emem Iwara, program director for the COVID-19 seroprevalence survey at Ciheb Nigeria.

The Government of Nigeria through the NCDC is providing technical support and aiding the implementation of all planned activities for the survey by leading all structural advocacies, community mobilization, and critical planning of the survey. NCDC also facilitated the review and approval of the survey protocol. The Nigerian government, through its Ministry of Health, is also providing security for the field team during data collection.

Survey teams are already visiting households and collecting data and samples across enumeration areas in both Kano State and FCT. The response rate in the first few days of data collection has been appreciably high.

"We have been engaging with traditional and religious leaders and through the various media channels. FCT and Kano residents are aware that the survey is to be conducted and are cooperating with the enumerators. The field staff have been trained to be courteous and respectful and to be able to explain the purpose of the survey in a manner that it will be easily acceptable," said Dr. Mathew Ashikin, director special duties, health and human services, FCT Administration, who also doubles as the chairman of the technical committee for the COVID-19 seroprevalence survey.


Center for International Health, Education, and Biosecurity
Institute of Human Virology

Andrew Tie
Senior Media and Public Relations Specialist

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