9.5 Planning and coordination for seroprevalence studies

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Population serologic studies together with mathematical modelling techniques have been widely used to investigate transmission patterns of infections and to inform and target vaccination activities. In addition, data from seroprevalence studies is an importance component in the verification process for disease elimination. These activities rely on laboratory support and appropriate planning and coordination are vital to ensure that usable information is generated with a judicious use of time and resources. Therefore, the laboratory should be involved and consulted during the early stages of planning.

The source of the serum specimens for the serosurvey may consist of convenience samples available from previous studies or available from hospitals. The volume of serum must be adequate for repeat testing. A clear understanding of how the data generated from the study will be used is necessary to help guide the protocols that the laboratory will follow. The items to consider include the following:

  1. Clearly identify the public health concern or question, tailored to the specific country context, that the study is expected to address
  2. Provide the reasons for the laboratory assay selected, details for IQC, EQA
  3. The coordination required between the field team and laboratory to oversee specimen transport logistics, specimen storage, responsibility for specimen labelling and recording of data
  4. Appropriate statistical analysis and database management including data entry and cleaning

It is recommended that guidelines for conducting population seroprevalence studies are carefully followed when planning a study. One such resource is Guidance on conducting serosurveys in support of measles and rubella elimination in the WHO European Region [2].