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Yeong-gyeong Kim 1 Article
Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies during the third wave of COVID-19 in the Seoul metropolitan area of Korea
Kyuhyun Yoon, Jayeun Kim, Kyong Ran Peck, Hyun Soo Kim, Hyukmin Lee, Yoo-Sung Hwang, Soon Young Lee, Sung-il Cho, Hun Jae Lee, Yeong-gyeong Kim, Byoungguk Kim, June-Woo Lee, Ah-Ra Kim, Hyeon Nam Do, Dong-Hyun Kim
Epidemiol Health. 2022;44:e2022085.   Published online September 30, 2022
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2022085
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Abstract
OBJECTIVES
After the third wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), by mid-February 2021, approximately 0.16% of the Korean population was confirmed positive, which appeared to be among the lowest rates worldwide at that time. However, asymptomatic transmission is challenging for COVID-19 surveillance. Therefore, a community-based serosurvey of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was conducted to understand the effectiveness of Korea’s strong containment strategy.
METHODS
We collected 5,002 residual sera samples from January 30 to March 3, 2021, from 265 medical facilities in Seoul, 346 in Gyeonggi Province, and 57 in Incheon. Sixty samples from tertiary institutions were excluded. We defined the sub-regions according to the addresses of the medical facilities where the specimens were collected. Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 was used for screening, and positivity was confirmed using the SARS-CoV-2 sVNT Kit. Prevalence was estimated using sampling weights and the Wilson score interval for a binomial proportion with a 95% confidence interval.
RESULTS
Among the 4,942 specimens, 32 and 25 tested positive for COVID-19 in the screening and confirmatory tests, respectively. The overall crude prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was 0.51%. The population-adjusted overall prevalence was 0.55% in women and 0.38% in men. The region-specific estimation was 0.67% and 0.30% in Gyeonggi Province and Seoul, respectively. No positive cases were detected in Incheon.
CONCLUSIONS
The proportion of undetected cases in Korea remained low as of early 2021. Therefore, an infection control strategy with exhaustive tracing and widespread pre-emptive testing appears to be effective in containing community spread of COVID-19.
Summary
Korean summary
코로나19바이러스 감염병(COVID-19)의 한국 내 3차 대유행기인 2020년 말 이후, 2021년 1월 우리나라 인구의 약 0.16%가 누적 확진되었으며, 이는 세계에서 매우 낮은 비율을 보이는 국가 중 하나였습니다. 그러나 COVID-19의 무증상 전파는 감염 확산방지와 감시체계에 문제점들을 초래할 수 있어 지역사회 기반 혈청 조사를 통해 그 현황을 파악했습니다. 2021년 1월 30일부터 3월 3일까지 서울, 경기, 인천 등 수도권 소재 1, 2차 의료기관에서 수집된 혈액검체의 잔여혈청표본 4942개에 대해 Roche사의 Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2를 이용한 1차 항체검사와, GenScript의 SARS-CoV-2 sVNT Kit를 이용하여 2차 중화항체유무를 확인하였다. 4942명의 검체 중 1차 검사와 2차 중화항체검사에서 각각 32명과 25명이 항체 양성이었다. SARS-CoV-2 항체의 전체 수도권 조유병률은 0.51%였습니다. 인구의 연령보정 전체 유병률은 0.47%였으며, 성별로는 여성에서 0.55%, 남성에서 0.38%였습니다. 지역별 추정치는 경기도와 서울이 각각 0.67%와 0.30%였고, 인천에서는 양성사례가 발견되지 않았습니다. 한국의 미발견 사례 비율은 누적 확진율의 3배에 달하지만, 여전히 1% 미만으로 ​​낮습니다. 철저한 추적과 광범위한 선제적 검사를 통한 감염 관리 전략이 지역사회에서 바이러스 확산을 억제하는 데 효과적이었던 것으로 보입니다.
Key Message
Around February 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 antibody test was conducted on the residual serum of adults (≥19 years) collected from primary and secondary medical institutions in the metropolitan area in South Korea. The estimated overall prevalence was 0.60% in the electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA) detecting IgG against the nucleocapsid protein and 0.47% for the neutralization antibody. The positivity of the confirmed test using surrogate neutralizing antibodies was only 78% of the ECLIA’s results. For prevention and control measures against the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections and new variants emerge, serosurvey targeting community-dwelling people is needed to understand the changing status in the community.

Epidemiol Health : Epidemiology and Health