Pretoria, 12 May 2021 – The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), together with research partners, Epicentre, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), is continuing with the National COVID-19 Antibody Survey (NCAS), which started in November, and will end later this month. This survey is funded by both the Solidarity Fund and the HSRC, and is fully supported by the National Department of Health.
The survey is being conducted in nine (9) provinces and is anticipated to reach upon completion, 19000 people in 400 communities.
The survey aims to understand and generate a national estimate of what proportion of South Africans may have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 (or COVID-19) virus, including those who may have been infected without knowing either due to being asymptomatic, having mild symptoms, or not being able to access testing facilities.
Although participation in the survey is entirely voluntary, is it very important that as many people living in South African participate so that the data that is generated is accurate and representative. The data will inform the country’s response to COVID-19 to ensure lives and livelihoods are protected.
The NCAS study team will be asking 6030 randomly sampled households to participate in the survey by sharing their experiences about the pandemic and to provide blood samples. By analysing the behavioural data and blood samples, the research team will be able to better understand the risk factors associated with the virus. Understanding these risk factors will help inform public health responses to protect the people who are most at risk.
While South Africa’s vaccination programme is currently being implemented, non-pharmaceutical and behavioural COVID-19 safety protocols must continue to be practiced. These include the proper wearing of masks, covering the nose and mouth even when in the company of friends and family, avoiding large gatherings, ensuring good ventilation, especially when using public transport, washing of hands and/or sanitising them, and maintaining social distance.
South Africans are urged to therefore continue to diligently implement these safety protocols.
The research team confirms that the survey is being conducted in full compliance with the national COVID-19 safety protocols.
Notes to the Editor
•19000 interviews with people over 12 years of age in each of the nine (9) provinces
•Trained field teams will visit selected households and conduct interviews aimed at assessing the history of infection, exposure to contacts, co-morbidities, and practices such as hand washing and social distancing. The interviews will not be longer than 20 minutes.
•A qualified nurse (phlebotomist) will request a small blood sample from each respondent that will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
•The results will be linked to the information provided in the questionnaires to understand how COVID-19 is spread in communities.
The blood samples and data from the questionnaires will subsequently be analysed following which the results will be publicly released to the nation.
Media who are interested in joining the research teams should please contact Manusha Pillai on 082 389 3587 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.