Serological surveillance for SARS-CoV-2

Serological surveillance for SARS-CoV-2

Faster, more accurate national tracking of the spread of COVID-19 - Serological surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in the community, at-risk groups and Health Workers.

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance will coordinate collection of blood samples from all States and Territories to measure specific antibodies and provide more accurate tracking of COVID-19 spread in the elderly, close patient contacts, healthcare workers and identification of the level of virus in asymptomatic groups (pregnant women, children, workplace contacts).

Key Investigators: Kristine Macartney, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, University of Sydney, John Kaldor, The Kirby Institute, UNSW, Dr Matthew O’Sullivan, University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital

Collaborators: Chris Blyth, Telethon Kids Institute, Siddhartha Mahanty, University of Melbourne Melbourne, Royal Melbourne, David Irving, Australian Red Cross Blood Service


  • Estimate SARS-CoV-2 spread by determining immunity in the community and key risk groups (school-aged children, pregnant women, health care workers, older age groups living in the community and others)
  • Undertake focussed sero-surveys in settings where community transmission has been occurring, such as Sydney and other capital cities and/or hot spots
  • Calculate the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion and assess factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion among health care workers or laboratory personnel
  • Determine the infection risk gradient between different professional groups, and in relation to types of exposure, types of personal protective equipment (PPE) worn and PPE compliance rates
  • Obtain critical information for decision-making in response to COVID-19 over coming months and years.

Research Plan

Serological surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in community groups

Study Design: Non-randomised prospective observational cohort studies. National surveillance will be coordinated through the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance facilitated through national networks. Community members of all ages (but with oversampling for elderly and children) will be recruited to participate in national sero-surveys over two rounds. Pregnant women and people with medical risk conditions will also be invited to participate, recruited from prenatal clinics and immunology clinics, respectively. Study coordinators will be based at four sites with detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at Westmead and Melbourne.
Study Sites: Study sites: NCIRS Westmead, The Kirby Institute UNSW, Telethon Kids Institute WA and Red Cross Blood Service, Queensland

Serological surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in HCW

Study Design: non-randomised prospective observational cohort study. Participants will, at monthly intervals (i) complete a questionnaire describing contact with individuals with suspected or proven COVID-19 or handling of laboratory samples from these individuals and (ii) have blood collected for detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (iii) have nasal and oral swabs collected (selected participants) for virus detection.
Study Sites: NSW and SA – Westmead Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Royal North Shore Hospital, Blacktown Mt Druitt Hospital, Nepean Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital, Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, Royal Adelaide Hospital; VIC – Royal Melbourne Hospital, Austin Hospital, Monash Medical Centre, Bendigo Health; other state sites pending trajectory of the epidemic.