With the leadership of Philippines and Singapore, ASEAN member states will collaborate for the first multi-country regional study on COVID-19 serosurveillance among the ASEAN population by September this year.
In line with ongoing vaccination efforts, the study will probe the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in seroconversion or the process of generating antibodies as a protection against viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2. The study also aims to provide evidence-based understanding on the prevalence of COVID-19 reinfection after seroconversion.
”By conducting a serosurveillance study, we will be able to analyze how effective our vaccination programs are going,” Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya says. “This will help us assess the level of immunity or protection that the COVID-19 vaccines can provide to the recipients, and identify for how long this immunity will last,” he adds.
The study will recruit 200 participants from each participating country based on an inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data gathered from the study will serve as inputs in crafting public health strategies to help contain the spread of COVID-19, such as recommendations for the administration of booster shots for high risk groups including healthcare workers.
Funding for the project is expected to come from the ASEAN S&T Innovation Fund (ASTIF), its dialogue partners and other international funders. To support the implementation of the project in their respective countries, Singapore and the Philippines through DOST-PCHRD will also contribute to the funding.
The regional project will be led and co-led by Dr. Kristine de la Cruz of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and Dr. Linfa Wang of Duke-NUS Medical School. The ASEAN Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines and Traditional Medicines Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) and the DxD Hub Singapore will coordinate and oversee its regional implementation. Other participating countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Aside from this project, the region will also collaborate for the ASEAN COVID Genomics Project which will focus on virus strains detected in the region. This study will be led by Malaysia and Singapore. (DOST)