Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies from a one-year National Serosurveillance of Kenyan Blood Transfusion Donors
Uyoga S., Adetifa IMO., Otiende M., Gitonga J., Mugo D., Nyagwange J., Karanja H., Tuju J., Makale J., Aman R., Mwangangi M., Amoth P., Kasera K., Ng’ang’a W., Kilonzo N., Chege E., Yegon C., Odhiambo E., Rotich T., Orgut I., Kihara S., Bottomley C., Kagucia E., Gallagher K., Etyang A., Voller S., Lambe T., Wright D., Barasa E., Tsofa B., Mwangangi J., Bejon P., Ochola-Oyier L., Warimwe G., Agweyu A., Scott A.
In tropical Africa, SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology is poorly described because of lack of access to testing and weak surveillance systems. Since April 2020, we followed SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in plasma samples across the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service. We developed an IgG ELISA against full length spike protein. Validated in locally-observed, PCR-positive COVID-19 cases and in pre-pandemic sera, sensitivity was 92.7% and specificity was 99.0%. Using sera from 9,922 donors, we estimated national seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at 4.3% in April-June 2020 and 9.1% in August-September 2020. Kenya’s second COVID-19 wave peaked in November 2020. Here we estimate national seroprevalence in early 2021. Between January 3 and March 15, 2021, we collected 3,062 samples from donors aged 16-64 years. Among 3,018 samples that met our study criteria, 1,333 were seropositive (crude seroprevalence 44.2%, 95% CI 42.4-46.0%). After Bayesian test-performance adjustment and population weighting to represent the national population distribution, the national estimate of seroprevalence was 48.5% (95% CI 45.2-52.1%). Seroprevalence varied little by age or sex but was higher in Nairobi (61.8%), the capital city, and lower in two rural regions. Almost half of Kenya’s adult donors had evidence of past SARS-CoV-2 infection by March 2021. Although high, the estimate is corroborated by other population-specific estimates in country. Between March and June, 2% of the population were vaccinated against COVID-19 and the country experienced a third epidemic wave. Natural infection is outpacing vaccine delivery substantially in Africa, and this reality needs to be considered as objectives of the vaccine programme are set.