As part of efforts to understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), and its partners will conduct anti-bodies household surveys in four states in the country.
This was made known by Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of NCDC during the daily Presidential Task Force briefing which held in Abuja yesterday.
According to the DG, the four states where the survey will be carried out are Gombe, Enugu, Nassarawa, and Lagos States. He explicated that the 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.
Speaking on the method that will be used, he stated that 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.
As part of the ongoing public health research activities, Ihekweazu noted that this is the first set of household surveys to be conducted for COVID-19 in Nigeria. In his words: “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”
Furthermore, DG revealed that the surveys will also estimate the proportion of people who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms that is asymptomatic. Through this, the country can identify risk factors for infection and measure the transmission of COVID-19 within households.
In terms of administering rapid malaria tests, he explained that the surveys will also assess malaria infections and their possible relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The results from the surveys, he added, will inform the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.
As a matter of fact, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the University College London (supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) will support the NCDC and NIMR in implementing these surveys.
It should be pointed out that the surveys will be conducted between September and November, and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.