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NCIRS is co-leading the Australian COVID-19 Serosurveillance Network and a suite of serosurveys with the Kirby Institute to measure the prevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in target populations. Serosurveys involve conducting serological tests on thousands of Australians across various age groups, geographical locations and target populations to determine whether someone has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The tests detect antibodies, which are made by the body following an infection with the virus. SARS-CoV-2 serosurveys provide critical information to estimate the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the Australian community. Currently our understanding of the epidemiology of COVID-19 in Australia has been predominantly based on the identification of cases who have presented for testing because they are ill (have symptoms). While this allows us to see the “tip of the iceberg”, seroprevalance studies provide a broader view of previous SARS-CoV-2 infections, including mild and asymptomatic cases and those who may not have been tested during their infection.
SARS-CoV-2 serosurveys are a key component of the Australian National Disease Surveillance Plan for COVID-19 and are listed as a precedent condition necessary to inform public health measures in the Australia’s Pandemic Health Intelligence Plan. Findings from these serosurveys will be used to inform public health policy, vaccination strategies and mathematical models designed to predict future disease spread, associated morbidity and mortality, health service needs and COVID-19 vaccine introduction.
Four serosurveys are currently underway. These are led by NCIRS and the Kirby Institute, and involve many collaborators:
The Australian COVID-19 Serosurveillance Network involves collaboration between public and private laboratories, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, national and jurisdictional health department representatives and subject matter experts (see the below list). This network has been established to bring together collaborators and expertise, and facilitate the ability to draw on the same sites to repeat serosurveys at subsequent times.
Lead investigator team
Laboratory methods leads
Key collaborators and funding bodies
We acknowledge and thank other collaborators involved, including those not specifically named above.
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We acknowledge that the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) is on the land of the traditional owners the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Australians, and recognise their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. Together, through research and partnership, we aim to move to a place of equity for all. NCIRS also acknowledges and pays respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations from which our research, staff and community are drawn.
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