Understanding SARS-Cov-2 Seroprevalence Studies

Collaborators: National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, Health Research Institute and MACSI, University of Limerick

Summary: SARS-CoV-2 continues to widely circulate in populations globally. Underdetection is acknowledged and is problematic when attempting to capture the true prevalence. Seroprevalence studies, where blood samples from a population sample are tested for antibodies that react to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, are a common method for estimating the proportion of people previously infected with the virus in a given population. However, obtaining reliable estimates from seroprevalence studies is challenging for a number of reasons, and the uncertainty in the results is often overlooked by scientists, policy makers, and the media. This paper reviews the methodological issues that arise in designing these studies, and the main sources of uncertainty that affect the results. We discuss the choice of study population, recruitment of subjects, uncertainty surrounding the accuracy of antibody tests, and the relationship between antibodies and infection over time. Understanding these issues can help the reader to interpret and critically evaluate the results of seroprevalence studies.

Supported by a grant from the Trinity College Dublin Covid-19 Research Funding Scheme

Publication: McConnell D, Hickey C, Bargary N, Trela-Larsen L, Walsh C, Barry M, Adams R. Understanding the Challenges and Uncertainties of Seroprevalence Studies for SARS-CoV-2. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(9):4640. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094640

Coronavirus Disease 2019: Considerations for Health Technology Assessment

It is expected that the COVID-19 pandemic will leave large deficits in the budgets of many jurisdictions. Funding for other treatments, in particular new treatments, may become more constrained than previously expected. Therefore, a robust health technology assessment (HTA) system is vital. Many clinical trials carried out during the pandemic may have been temporarily halted, while others may have had to change their protocols. Even trials that continue as normal may experience external changes as other aspects of the healthcare service may not be available to the patients in the trial, or the patients themselves may contract COVID-19. Consequently, many limitations are likely to arise in the provision of robust HTAs, which could have profound consequences on the availability of new treatments. With that in mind, the NCPE Review Group discuss the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on HTA and make some recommendations to Applicants submitting HTAs to the NCPE.

Publication: Leahy J, Hickey C, McConnell D et al (on behalf of the NCPE Review Group). Coronavirus Disease 2019: Considerations for Health Technology Assessment From the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics Review Group Published Online: April 18, 2020doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2020.09.003