Lagos, Nasarawa, others susceptible to COVID-19 – NCDC, NIMR survey

The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu has warned 80 to 90 percent of residents in Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa and Gombe states are still susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, according to a recent COVID-19 Household Seroprevalence Surveys carried out by the NCDC and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).

He noted results of the survey also showed there are higher rates of infection in urban areas compared to rural settlements, with persons aged 18-64 years being more infected.

Speaking during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on covid-19 in Abuja, Ihekweazu added that the country has 54 cases of the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) variant of the COVID-19 virus.

He stated that 100,000 representative samples will be sent weekly to the Africa Centre for Excellence in Genomics in Ede for sequencing.

“Concerning the covid-19 household prevalence survey just completed, between September and October 2020, a household seroprevalence for covid-19 was carried out in four states in Nigeria –  Lagos, Nasarawa, Gombe and Enugu state.

“Following up on our epidemiological analysis, we now have the results which we will include in shaping public health response.

“We tested representative samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies so we can identify people who have been infected but not detected by the national surveillance system because if you are asymptomatic, many people are unlikely to come forward for testing.

“The findings for this survey showed that the highest estimated prevalence of SARS-CoV-2  antibodies in the population was 23 percent in Lagos and Enugu States, 19 percent in Nasarawa State, and 9 percent in Gombe State.

“This means that as many as 1 in 5 individuals in Lagos, Enugu and Nasarawa State would have ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In Gombe, the proportion is about 1 in 10.

“We are still working to have a better understanding of the SAR-COV-2 and the duration of the immunity that it offers. There is a possibility that immunity wanes over time and antibodies may not have been detected in people that were infected earlier in the outbreak.

“The results have also shown higher rates of infections in urban areas. But the most important outcome of this survey is a demonstration that a large part of the population is still susceptible to this virus. 80 to 90 percent of the population in these four states are still susceptible to the virus, which makes the vaccination efforts we are about to start in Nigeria even more important.”

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