Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) has announced that it will be conducting household surveys in four states to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria. The surveys, the NCDC says, will be done in conjunction with the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partner.
NCDC Director General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic, said the surveys, which will last from September to December, will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos States.
These ‘seroprevalence surveys’, Ihekweazu explained, will provide the best evidence yet on the extent of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
‘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,’ he explained.
‘For Nigeria’s COVID-19 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 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 surveys will be conducted between September and November, and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.
‘The Federal Ministry of Health, it’s agencies NCDC and NIMR as well as the PTF-COVID-19 remain committed to strengthening Nigeria’s response to COVID-19 and controlling the outbreak.’