As Kenyans continue to appeal to the government to fast track the Covid-19 testing exercise across the country, a study has revealed that at least 2.6 million Kenyans have already been exposed to the virus.
The study conducted by Kemri-Wellcome Trust, a partnership between the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Oxford, analysed the presence of antibodies in 2,535 blood donor samples from different regions in the country.
The researchers then estimated the population that may have been exposed to the virus using a modelling formula involving the population in each region.
Antibody testing in blood samples gives an indication of whether one had been exposed to the virus.
The report details that the researchers developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that targets the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.
They subjected it to a rigorous validation process and protocols before being used in the study.
From the study, Nairobi and Rift Valley recorded the highest prevalence with 550,000 and 510,000 people, followed by Nyanza with 490,000.
Central region came third with 370,000, Eastern 320,000, Western 220,000 and finally Coast region with 200,000.
Interestingly North Eastern region that has recorded a number of Covid-19 cases returned a zero prevalence. A total of 41 blood donor samples had been picked for the study.
“There is a large gap between the confirmed cases identified by Rapid Response Teams in testing and tracing, and the numbers of individuals in the population that we believe have been exposed based on antibody data.” The report read in part.
The big gap is evident as by the time of the study the number of Covid-19 cases confirmed in Nairobi was slightly over 2700.
But the researchers say the study can help the government to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
“The large numbers of the population that have been exposed would lead models to predict significant numbers of severe cases and deaths. However, the county hospitals in which monitoring for pneumonia admissions is established are not seeing high numbers of admissions, ” the report adds.
From the study, it’s estimated that at least 6,684 deaths will be recorded countrywide due to the pandemic. At least 26,093 people will experience the severity of the disease.
It’s however, important to note that the actual figures released by the ministry of health do not seem to follow the latest modelling statists.
The researchers recommend that the most ideal way of estimating exposure to Covid-19 in the Kenyan population would be visiting randomly selected homesteads to collect and then test blood samples.
Samples relied upon for this study had been collected between April and June 16.
So far, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country stands at 6,941 and deaths 152.
The cumulative sample size tested so far stands at a little over 178,000.