Research

Sentinel seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in Gauteng Province, South Africa, August - October 2020

J A George, S Khoza, E Mayne, S Dlamini, N Kone, W Jassat, K Chetty, C M Centner, T Pillay, M Maphayi, D Mabuza, I Maposa, N Cassim

Abstract


Background. Estimates of prevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody positivity (seroprevalence) for tracking the COVID-19 epidemic are lacking for most African countries.

Objectives. To determine the prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in a sentinel cohort of patient samples received for routine testing at tertiary laboratories in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Methods. This sentinel study was conducted using remnant serum samples received at three National Health Laboratory Service laboratories in the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) district. Collection was from 1 August to 31 October 2020. We extracted accompanying laboratory results for glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), creatinine, HIV, viral load and CD4 T-cell count. An anti-SARS-CoV-2 targeting the nucleocapsid (N) protein of the coronavirus with higher affinity for IgM and IgG antibodies was used. We reported crude as well as population-weighted and test-adjusted seroprevalence. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine whether age, sex, HIV and diabetic status were associated with increased risk for seropositivity.

Results. A total of 6 477 samples were analysed, the majority (n=5 290) from the CoJ region. After excluding samples with no age or sex stated, the model population-weighted and test-adjusted seroprevalence for the CoJ (n=4 393) was 27.0% (95% confidence interval (CI) 25.4 - 28.6). Seroprevalence was highest in those aged 45 - 49 years (29.8%; 95% CI 25.5 - 35.0) and in those from the most densely populated areas of the CoJ. Risk for seropositivity was highest in those aged 18 - 49 years (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.52; 95% CI 1.13 - 2.13; p=0.0005) and in samples from diabetics (aOR 1.36; 95% CI 1.13 - 1.63; p=0.001).

Conclusions. Our study conducted between the first and second waves of the pandemic shows high levels of current infection among patients attending public health facilities in Gauteng Province.


Authors' affiliations

J A George, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

S Khoza, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

E Mayne, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

S Dlamini, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

N Kone, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

W Jassat, Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, National Institute for Communicable Disease of the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

K Chetty, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

C M Centner, Division of Medical Microbiology, Groote Schuur Hospital, National Health Laboratory Service and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

T Pillay, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

M Maphayi, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

D Mabuza, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

I Maposa, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

N Cassim, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

COVID-19, Seroprevalence, South Africa, Sentinel

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(11):1078-1083. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i11.15669

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-11-05
Date published: 2021-11-05

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