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INTRODUCTION: The high proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections that have remained undetected presents a challenge to tracking the progress of the pandemic and estimating the extent of population immunity. METHODS: We used residual blood samples from women attending antenatal care services at three hospitals in Kenya between August 2020 and October 2021and a validated IgG ELISA for SARS-Cov-2 spike protein and adjusted the results for assay sensitivity and specificity. We fitted a two-component mixture model as an alternative to the threshold analysis to estimate of the proportion of individuals with past SARS-CoV-2 infection. RESULTS: We estimated seroprevalence in 2,981 women; 706 in Nairobi, 567 in Busia and 1,708 in Kilifi. By October 2021, 13% of participants were vaccinated (at least one dose) in Nairobi, 2% in Busia. Adjusted seroprevalence rose in all sites; from 50% (95%CI 42-58) in August 2020, to 85% (95%CI 78-92) in October 2021 in Nairobi; from 31% (95%CI 25-37) in May 2021 to 71% (95%CI 64-77) in October 2021 in Busia; and from 1% (95% CI 0-3) in September 2020 to 63% (95% CI 56-69) in October 2021 in Kilifi. Mixture modelling, suggests adjusted cross-sectional prevalence estimates are underestimates; seroprevalence in October 2021 could be 74% in Busia and 72% in Kilifi. CONCLUSIONS: There has been substantial, unobserved transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Nairobi, Busia and Kilifi Counties. Due to the length of time since the beginning of the pandemic, repeated cross-sectional surveys are now difficult to interpret without the use of models to account for antibody waning.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Antibodies, Viral, COVID-19, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Hospitals, Humans, Immunoglobulin G, Kenya, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Infectious, Prenatal Care, Referral and Consultation, SARS-CoV-2, Seroepidemiologic Studies, Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus