What are serosurveys?
Serosurveys are studies that test body fluids, most commonly blood but also oral fluid, to estimate what proportion of the population has been vaccinated against or previously infected with a pathogen—and how many people remain susceptible.
What can you learn from a serosurvey?
- Involve collection of specimens to measure the presence and level of antigen-specific antibodies in a group of people;
- Reveal what proportion of the population has been exposed to an infectious disease or has been vaccinated against a pathogen;
- Estimate the level of population immunity to one or more infectious diseases;
- Identify gaps in immunity because people were not vaccinated or previously infected. Immunity gaps can be in specific age groups, certain locations, or among specific populations such as refugees. Identifying immunity gaps can guide immunization programs.
- Estimate parameters for modelling and transmission dynamics to measure disease burden and guide immunization programs.
What is the value of serosurveys?
- Interest in serosurveys has expanded greatly in recent months because of their potential value in understanding the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 and have been used for decades for vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and rubella.
- Serosurveys can play a valuable role in understanding immunity gaps to vaccine-preventable diseases, including those following disruptions to routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns due to COVID-19, by estimating age-specific population immunity.
What will you learn?
This Special Event will draw on lessons learned from conducting serosurveys for vaccine-preventable disease to highlight potential uses and caveats for immunization programs.
Who is this for?
The Special Event is intended for audiences with an interest in designing and conducting serosurveys as well as individuals working in the immunization program at the national and subnational levels.
Kyla Hayford, PhD
Dr. Hayford focuses on developing and implementing innovative surveillance for vaccine-preventable diseases. She works primarily on conducting serological surveillance for measles, tetanus, rubella and other vaccine-preventable diseases with fingerprick blood or oral fluid to identify susceptible populations and support targeted immunization strategies. Her projects include the Strengthening Immunization Systems through Serosurveillance (SISS) in Zambia and India as well as serological surveillance studies in Kenya and Mozambique.
Felicity Cutts, FMedSci
Professor Felicity Cutts is an honorary professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, with 40 years’ experience in international health. She has worked at national and international levels on the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of immunization and maternal-child health programs in Africa and Asia. Her research has spanned phase II-III vaccine trials of measles and pneumococcal vaccines, to sero-epidemiological and mathematical modelling of measles, rubella and hepatitis B, to field methods for evaluating immunization programs and measles control activities including innovations in surveillance. She has recently been active in updating WHO guidance on the conduct of immunization coverage surveys and measles sero-surveys and on identifying key challenges and obstacles to maximizing the potential uses of serological surveillance.
M. Carolina Danovaro, MD, MSc
Dr. Carolina Danovaro (aka Danovaro-Holliday) has over 20 years of experience working in different immunization-related activities in a variety of settings. She is currently part of the Global Immunization Monitoring team at the World Health Organization (WHO), working mainly on the analysis and interpretation of global immunization data, serving as focal point for vaccination coverage surveys, and supporting Member States to improve immunization data quality and use. Since 2004, and for 11 years, Carolina was responsible for immunization data quality and strategic information at the Immunization Program of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in Washington DC. At PAHO, she also coordinated the inter-programmatic M&E team in the Department of Family, Gender and Life Course. Among her main accomplishments are the regional push for data quality and advances in the development and implementation of Electronic Immunization Registries. Finally, Carolina has taught in different Vaccinology courses and enjoys learning and mentoring interns and younger professionals.
Simon Mutembo, MBCHB, MPH, PhD
Dr. Simon Mutembo has over 12 years’ experience working on various public health programs and research projects including the expanded program on immunizations in a low resource setting. He is part of the scientific team at the International Vaccine Access Center working on assessing the feasibility and utility of serological surveillance to guide immunization programs. In his role as a clinician and a public health researcher he has led community based serosurveys and serosurveys nested in pre-existing biorepositories in Zambia.
Serosurveys for SARS-Cov-2 and vaccine-preventable diseases:
Resources for participants
General information about serosurveys for vaccine preventable diseases
- Cutts FT, Hanson M. Seroepidemiology: an underused tool for designing and monitoring vaccination programmes in low‐and middle‐income countries. Tropical medicine & international health. 2016 Sep;21(9):1086-98.
- Metcalf CJ, Farrar J, Cutts FT, Basta NE, Graham AL, Lessler J, Ferguson NM, Burke DS, Grenfell BT. Use of serological surveys to generate key insights into the changing global landscape of infectious disease. The Lancet. 2016 Aug 13;388(10045):728-30.
- Hayford K, Mutembo S, Carcelen A, et al. Measles and rubella serosurvey identifies rubella immunity gap in young adults of childbearing age in Zambia: The added value of nesting a serological survey within a post-campaign coverage evaluation survey. Vaccine. 2019;37(17):2387‐2393.
World Health Organization
General information about survey design and serosurveys for vaccine preventable diseases
- World Health Organization Vaccination Coverage Cluster Surveys Reference Manual
- World Health Organization Guidelines on the Use of Serosurveys in Support of Measles and Rubella Elimination.
Research articles & technical guidance
- Clapham H, Hay J, Routledge I, et al. Seroepidemiologic Study Designs for Determining SARS-COV-2 Transmission and Immunity. Emerg Infect Dis 2020; 26. DOI:10.3201/eid2609.201840.
- Stringhini S, Wisniak A, Piumatti G, et al. Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Geneva, Switzerland (SEROCoV-POP): a population-based study. Lancet 2020. DOI:10.1016/s0140-6736(20)31304-0.
- World Health Organization’s UNITY studies protocol: Population-based age-stratified seroepidemiological investigation protocol for coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) infection
- Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain (ENE-COVID): a nationwide, population-based seroepidemiological study, Lancet 2020. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31483-5
- Will the Pandemic Lead to Outbreaks of Other Maladies? The New York Times
- The results of coronavirus ‘serosurveys’ are starting to be released. Here’s how to kick their tires, Stat News
- These are answers we need.’ WHO plans global study to discover true extent of coronavirus infections, Science Magazine