The Ministry of Public Health (MINSANTE) has been conducting a national COVID-19 seroprevalence survey since July 26 to estimate the number of people who have been in contact with the coronavirus and to determine the risk factors associated with its mortality. The survey is being carried out in collaboration with Epicentre, the research, and epidemiology branch of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the African Union Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
The purpose of this survey "is to assess where our country stands in terms of immunity to Covid. We want to determine how the virus circulated in our communities on a region to region and socio-economic group to group basis," explained Professor Yap Boum II, lead researcher, epidemiologist, and regional representative of Epicentre in an interview with the health media outlet Echos Santé.
Till August 26, identifiable teams equipped with tablets will "randomly" select households in regional capitals to ask people about their experiences with the disease and its impact on their households. Those teams will also ask questions about the surveyed population’s vaccination status and carry out rapid tests to look for the presence of Covid-19 antibodies. “A sample will also be kept for further evaluation of the immunity of our populations to the Sars-Cov-2 virus responsible for Covid-19," according to Professor Yap Boum II.
This survey will help determine the immunity rate in each region to assess whether Cameroon can achieve the 60% herd immunity threshold.
"We expect regions such as the Centre, Littoral, and other regions that have reported the highest number of Covid cases will also be those with the highest seroprevalences. We will also see if we have socio-professional categories that are more affected than others, such as health workers who are on the front line of patient care," the epidemiologist added.
Based on the results of the survey, the country will adjust its vaccination and awareness-raising campaigns. "We will be able to intensify communication and vaccination in areas and populations that have been the least exposed so far, to anticipate future waves of Covid-19 like those we are seeing in neighboring countries, with the emergence of the Delta variant," the lead researcher informs.
This coronavirus seroprevalence survey is not the first to be organized by Cameroon. Last year, the MINSANTE carried out a similar survey to anticipate the spread and evolution of the virus to fine-tune its response strategy. To date, the result of that survey has not been published.