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    Community-based seroprevalence study to determine Covid-19 immunity levels in Northern Cyprus

    The TRNC Ministry of Health conducted a study between 10 July – 20 August 2020 in order to have an idea about the rate at which the society encountered the virus in the first wave of the epidemic in our country (10 March-16 April 2020).

    The study included expert health researchers

    The aim of the study is to shed light on health planning and related studies by obtaining information about the distribution of Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody development against COVID-19, generally and regionally, by age group and gender. 

    Having a positive antibody in an individual does not mean that the person has gained indefinite immunity against COVID-19, nor does a positive IgG antibody result indicate an active infection in the body.

     Healthcare professionals working in public hospitals and health centers from various regions of the country, individuals who come to these health institutions for routine blood donation, individuals who donate blood at BNDH, and individuals sought from the society with a random sample provided by the TRNC Statistical Institute were invited to participate in the study.

     IgG antibody positivity and level against COVID-19 were measured with Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG KMIA * test by taking blood samples from the people participating in the study.

    A total of 1620 people, 653 people from Nicosia, 419 from Famagusta, 252 from Kyrenia, 158 from Iskele and 138 from Güzelyurt, participated in the study, which was conducted simultaneously in various centers. The study was applied to healthcare workers who were thought to be in a higher risk group, in addition to the general population in order to see the variable risk ratios within the population. Of the total number of 1620 studies, 508 are healthcare workers and 1112 are members of the general society.

     Of the 508 healthcare workers, 79% were women and 21% were men. The mean age of healthcare workers was 41 ± 9, varying between 20 and 70 years.

     54% of 1112 community members were women and 46% were men. The average age in this group is 45 ± 17, and the age range is between 8 and 94.

     Out of 1112 samples taken from the community, positive IgG antibodies against COVID-19 were observed in 3 individuals (0.3%). According to our study, after COVID-19 started to be seen in our country in March, the rate of antibodies against the disease (seroprevalence) in the society is 0.2%. If the TRNC population of 400,000 is taken as a basis, the rate of 0.2% is equivalent to 800 people. This rate also takes into account the scientifically determined small error of the test used. This seroprevalence rate may vary between 0% and 0.7% (confidence interval) according to different samples taken from the community.

     The observed population seroprevalence rate is consistent with the studies conducted in various parts of the world and the number of cases diagnosed after the outbreak started in our country in March.

     Out of 508 samples taken from healthcare professionals, positive IgG antibody values ​​against COVID-19 were observed in 4 individuals (0.8%). Again, considering the characteristics of the test kit used, the rate of antibody (seroprevalence) against the disease in healthcare workers is 0.7%. This rate may vary between 0% and 1.9% (confidence interval) according to different samples taken from healthcare professionals.

     As in similar studies in the world, it was observed in this study that positive IgG antibodies against COVID-19 are more common in healthcare workers.

     The distribution of 7 people with positive IgG antibody value against COVID-19 is as follows: 5 people are women and 2 people are men. 2 people are between 30-40 years old, 1 person is between 40-50 years old, 2 people are between 50-60 years old, and 2 people are between 60-70 years old. 2 people are from Famagusta, 2 people are from Iskele, 2 people are from Nicosia, 1 person is from Kyrenia. Healthcare professionals work in Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia and İskele districts. These 7 people are not diagnosed cases or their known contacts.

     Detailed analyzes regarding the study are ongoing.
    * chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay. In the light of the information obtained from the manufacturer’s own studies and independent studies, a high reliability test kit was used in this study. Although false positive rate is low, it is not zero.


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