Serological Assessment for COVID-19 among Healthcare workers and Vaccine Preparedness (The SACH-VP Project)

CHALLENGE

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread through all areas and sectors of the world, causing significant morbidity and mortality, overwhelming the medical and public health system, and severely debilitating the economy. As healthcare workers are a high-risk population, they are a high priority population for future COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. Serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies can provide evidence of past infection of COVID-19 disease. Understanding antibody responses in this population in the context of infection and high-risk exposure will additionally provide a deeper understanding of the implications of vaccine deployment. Further, when a vaccine against COVID-19 does become available, there may be concerns regarding its uptake. As healthcare workers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to improve our understanding of barriers they anticipate facing during the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the investments that they believe are needed to ensure preparedness.

Source: Dr S. Bhowmick, Kolkata

APPROACH

This study will assess antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a longitudinal manner over the course of the year among a representative cohort of healthcare workers at two hospitals in West Bengal, India. This study will also aim to monitor SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion, evaluate evidence of asymptomatic infection, characterize risk factors to SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and characterize the duration and severity of COVID-19 disease. We will use a mixed-methods approach to evaluate vaccine preparedness and perceptions of risk, benefits, and demand for a COVID-19 vaccine among healthcare workers by administering quantitative surveys and conducting in-depth interviews

RESULTS

Serological surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at multiple stages of the outbreak in India will support policy makers to make evidence-informed decisions regarding current control measures and future vaccine-related policy decisions. Further this study will also understand the perception of risk of COVID-19 infection and the barriers anticipated in the eventual rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine. The results will allow us to conceptualize infrastructure and targeted policies to ensure preparedness for an eventual rollout, as well as ensure that these barriers are addressed for future infectious diseases. This study will also build capacity at local facilities and laboratories to conduct facility based serological surveys and serve as future platforms for disease surveillance in India.