News Scan for Jun 12, 2020

COVID-19 antibodies in Geneva
Low global flu levels

Study: At least 11% of Geneva’s population has antibodies to SARS-CoV2

A new study in The Lancet shows that the population prevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, grew in Geneva, Switzerland, in April from 5% to 11%.

"At what appears to be the tail end of the first wave of the pandemic in Switzerland, about one in ten people have developed detectable antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, despite the fact that it was one of the more heavily affected areas in Europe," the authors of the study said.

The findings come from the Swiss SEROCoV-POP study, which will conduct serosurveillance in Geneva for 12 weeks. The initial data were collected among 2,766 participants from 1,339 households, between Apr 6 and May 9. In the first week, seroprevalence of antibodies was 4.8%, but by the fifth week it rose to 10.8%. Children ages 5 to 9 years and adults older than 65 were less likely to be seropositive than adults ages 20 to 49.

"After accounting for the time to seroconversion, we estimated that for every reported confirmed case, there were 11.6 infections in the community," the authors wrote.

This means the vast majority of Geneva's population is still at risk of COVID-19 infections, despite a high documented case rate of 10.3 per 1,000 inhabitants, with 5,160 cases and 266 deaths as of May 9 among 500,000 city inhabitants.
Jun 12 Lancet


Global flu activity lower than expected, Southern Hemisphere quiet

Global flu activity is lower than expected for this time of year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, adding a caveat that its information should be interpreted with caution because of possible influences of COVID-19 activity and distancing measures.

In temperate Northern Hemisphere countries, flu has returned to interseasonal levels, and in the Southern Hemisphere, which typically sees levels starting to rise in May, the flu season hasn't started yet.

Some countries in the Caribbean and Central America are reporting increases in severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) activity, such as Costa Rica, though many areas are experiencing rises in COVID-19 cases. In Western Asia, SARI levels rose in Azerbaijan, coinciding with increased COVID-19 activity.

Globally, of flu samples tested in the second half of May, 68.9% were influenza A, and, of the subtyped influenza A viruses, 66.7% were 2009 H1N1.
Jun 12 WHO global flu update

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