Large-scale Geographic Seroprevalence Surveys | CDC

CDC is conducting a nationwide COVID-19 seroprevalence survey in 25 U.S. metropolitan areas, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Vitalant Research Institute (VRI), and large blood collection organizations, including Vitalant, American Red Cross, Bloodworks Northwest, and New York Blood Center. This is the largest nationwide COVID-19 seroprevalence survey to try and understand the percentage of people in the U.S. who may have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

This seroprevalence survey will expand an ongoing National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and National Health, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funded project with VRI that involves the NHLBI REDS (Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study) program. The SARS-CoV-2 REDS project plans to test already-existing blood donation samples from Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies each month for six months from March through August, 2020.

As part of this collaboration, CDC will provide technical assistance and financial support to VRI and collaborating institutions that will allow the survey to be expanded to 19 additional cities. These cities have not yet been finalized but will include major metropolitan areas from across the nation. Once the 19 additional cities are added, VRI and collaborating organizations will collect and test approximately 1,000 anonymous blood donation samples from each of the 25 total cities. They will test samples each month for 12 months, and again at 18 months. Nearly 300,000 samples will be tested overall. Because this survey will collect samples from major metropolitan areas across the entire country at different time points, its findings will help estimate the percentage of previous SARS-CoV-2 infections out of the total U.S. population. It also will track how the percentage of infections is changing over time.

Information on blood donations samples tested

When blood is donated in the United States, small samples are taken from each blood unit to find out the donor’s blood group. The blood is also screened for infectious diseases to make sure the donated blood is safe for medical use. VRI and collaborating organizations will collect and test existing samples to see if there are antibodies against the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2. Specimen collection is scheduled to begin in June and continue until May 2021, with one final collection in November 2021.
Testing the same geographic locations each month over time will allow CDC to understand the percentages of people who have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at different points in time. This helps figure out the differences in infection rates around the country and over time. The results will help public health officials better understand how widespread the virus is, and how it is spreading.

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