Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and retrospective mortality in two African settings: Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Simons E Nikolay B Ouedraogo P Pasquier E Tiemeni C Adjaho I Badjo C Chamman K Diomandé M Dosso M Doumbia M Izia YA Kakompe H Katsomya AM Kij V Akissi VK Mambula C Mbala-Kingebeni P Muzinga J Ngoy B Penali L Pini A Porten K Salou H Sevede D Luquero F Gignoux E
PLOS global public health 2023 ; 3(6); . doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0001457. Epub 2023 06 08


Although seroprevalence studies have demonstrated the wide circulation of SARS-COV-2 in African countries, the impact on population health in these settings is still poorly understood. Using representative samples of the general population, we evaluated retrospective mortality and seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Lubumbashi and Abidjan. The studies included retrospective mortality surveys and nested anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence surveys. In Lubumbashi the study took place during April-May 2021 and in Abidjan the survey was implemented in two phases: July-August 2021 and October-November 2021. Crude mortality rates were stratified between pre-pandemic and pandemic periods and further investigated by age group and COVID waves. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence was quantified by rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) and laboratory-based testing (ELISA in Lubumbashi and ECLIA in Abidjan). In Lubumbashi, the crude mortality rate (CMR) increased from 0.08 deaths per 10 000 persons per day (pre-pandemic) to 0.20 deaths per 10 000 persons per day (pandemic period). Increases were particularly pronounced among <5 years old. In Abidjan, no overall increase was observed during the pandemic period (pre-pandemic: 0.05 deaths per 10 000 persons per day; pandemic: 0.07 deaths per 10 000 persons per day). However, an increase was observed during the third wave (0.11 deaths per 10 000 persons per day). The estimated seroprevalence in Lubumbashi was 15.7% (RDT) and 43.2% (laboratory-based). In Abidjan, the estimated seroprevalence was 17.4% (RDT) and 72.9% (laboratory-based) during the first phase of the survey and 38.8% (RDT) and 82.2% (laboratory-based) during the second phase of the survey. Although circulation of SARS-CoV-2 seems to have been extensive in both settings, the public health impact varied. The increases, particularly among the youngest age group, suggest indirect impacts of COVID and the pandemic on population health. The seroprevalence results confirmed substantial underdetection of cases through the national surveillance systems.

Copyright: © 2023 Simons et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.