This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Cable J, Fauci A, Dowling WE, Günther S, Bente DA, Yadav PD, Madoff LC, Wang LF, Arora RK, Van Kerkhove M, Chu MC, Jaenisch T, Epstein JH, Frost SDW, Bausch DG, Hensley LE, Bergeron É, Sitaras I, Gunn MD, Geisbert TW, Muñoz-Fontela C, Krammer F, de Wit E, Nordenfelt P, Saphire EO, Gilbert SC, Corbett KS, Branco LM, Baize S, van Doremalen N, Krieger MA, Clemens SAC, Hesselink R, Hartman D. Lessons from the pandemic: Responding to emerging zoonotic viral diseases—a Keystone Symposia report. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2022. Doi: 10.1111/nyas.14898

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members

A report published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, prepared with the participation of the CITF-funded SeroTracker team, presents the outcomes of the April 2022 Keystone symposium on the successes and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rahul Arora (University of Calgary) participated as a representative of the CITF-funded SeroTracker initiative.

Important takeaways included the paramount importance of continued seroprevalence studies in understanding the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infection and immunity. The knowledge gained during the COVID-19 pandemic will be useful for improving the serosurveillance of endemic or emerging diseases going forward.

Key findings:

  • Approximately 800 studies, 43% of which were conducted in low-to-middle-income countries, conducted from January 1, 2020 through March 4, 2022 were included in the analysis.
  • In October 2021, global SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence was estimated to be 67%, leaving a significant proportion of the world’s population completely unprotected, and therefore more susceptible to COVID-19 disease.
  • Seroprevalence varied across the globe, being lowest in the Western Pacific region and highest in high-income countries in the Americas, including Canada.
  • Increases in seroprevalence were mostly induced by vaccination in high-income countries (in Europe, the Americas and the Western Pacific), while infection-acquired seropositivity prevailed in Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • Cases continue to be highly underestimated globally, particularly in Africa, as shown by a study led by the Serotracker team.

Researchers agreed that changes adopted as part of the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic must be maintained, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. These efforts, which include public policies, infrastructures, laboratory and manufacturing capacities, regulatory processes or collaborations, are essential to facilitate a coordinated global response in the future and to strengthen national healthcare systems.

The aim of the Keystone Symposium, which gathered researchers from academia, industry, government and the nonprofit sector, was to address how lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic could be applied to other pathogen threats. Rahul Arora presented results from a systematic review and meta-analysis of SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence studies, conducted by the SeroTracker team in partnership with the World Health Organization.