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Understanding the Challenges and Uncertainties of Seroprevalence Studies for SARS-CoV-2

1
National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, St James’s Hospital, D08 HD53 Dublin, Ireland
2
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Trinity College Dublin, D08 HD53 Dublin, Ireland
3
Health Research Institute and MACSI, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Nicola Luigi Bragazzi
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4640; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094640
Received: 9 April 2021 / Revised: 23 April 2021 / Accepted: 24 April 2021 / Published: 27 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Infectious Disease Epidemiology)
SARS-CoV-2 continues to widely circulate in populations globally. Underdetection is acknowledged and is problematic when attempting to capture the true prevalence. Seroprevalence studies, where blood samples from a population sample are tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies that react to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, are a common method for estimating the proportion of people previously infected with the virus in a given population. However, obtaining reliable estimates from seroprevalence studies is challenging for a number of reasons, and the uncertainty in the results is often overlooked by scientists, policy makers, and the media. This paper reviews the methodological issues that arise in designing these studies, and the main sources of uncertainty that affect the results. We discuss the choice of study population, recruitment of subjects, uncertainty surrounding the accuracy of antibody tests, and the relationship between antibodies and infection over time. Understanding these issues can help the reader to interpret and critically evaluate the results of seroprevalence studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; seroprevalence; antibody testing COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; seroprevalence; antibody testing
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MDPI and ACS Style

McConnell, D.; Hickey, C.; Bargary, N.; Trela-Larsen, L.; Walsh, C.; Barry, M.; Adams, R. Understanding the Challenges and Uncertainties of Seroprevalence Studies for SARS-CoV-2. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 4640. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094640

AMA Style

McConnell D, Hickey C, Bargary N, Trela-Larsen L, Walsh C, Barry M, Adams R. Understanding the Challenges and Uncertainties of Seroprevalence Studies for SARS-CoV-2. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(9):4640. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094640

Chicago/Turabian Style

McConnell, David, Conor Hickey, Norma Bargary, Lea Trela-Larsen, Cathal Walsh, Michael Barry, and Roisin Adams. 2021. "Understanding the Challenges and Uncertainties of Seroprevalence Studies for SARS-CoV-2" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 9: 4640. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094640

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