News


August 27, 2020

First seroprevalence survey will reveal the coronavirus impact in public residences for older adults

• As per Fundación Chile's coordination with Universidad del Desarrollo and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, 14,400 antibody tests will be administered to determine the number of seniors dwelling in SENAMA residences, who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. The study will be carried out in three regions, and the Ministry of Science will make the results available for the scientific community's analysis.

In an effort to improve decision-making and public health protocols amid the health pandemic, the Minister of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation, Andrés Couve, launched the First Seroprevalence Survey in Chile among older adult population under the wing of SENAMA. This will provide the first critical insight into the spread of COVID-19 among the highest-risk population segment residing in long-term care facilities for seniors (ELEAMs for its initials in Spanish).

The signing of the agreement giving rise to this study counted with the participation of Pablo Pizarro, responsible for the Covid-19 strategy at the National Service for Older Adults (SENAMA); Marcos Kulka, Fundación Chile’s CEO; Andrés Merino, MetLife’s CEO; Pablo Vial, Director of the Institute for Science and Innovation in Medicine (ICIM) at Clínica Alemana’s School of Medicine of Universidad del Desarrollo, and member of the Advisory Council of the Minsal for Covid-19; in addition to Carlos Jerez, Dean of the School of Engineering and Sciences at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez.

The research is the result of the collaborative work between the public-private sphere and academia, coordinated by Fundación Chile to implement in record-time this survey that shall conclude in November, and that will be developed as a result of Fundación MetLife’s donation of 14,400 rapid COVID-19 antibody test kits, equaling an investment of 200 thousand USD.

“This unprecedented seroprevalence survey for SENAMA residences, will allow us to support from a scientific research standpoint the protection against coronavirus of one of the most vulnerable groups. As from this effort we will be able to provide support in the management of senior residences from a scientific perspective and also contribute to new analyses and solutions as from the community, given that the Ministry of Science will make the results of this study available through our Covid19 Database,” noted the minister, Andrés Couve.

For his part, the responsible of the Covid-19 strategy at SENAMA, Pablo Pizarro, stated that “this will allow us, through a public-private alliance, to take samples in long-term care facilities in the Valparaíso, O’Higgins, and Metropolitan regions, hence determining the number of older adults that have been affected by Covid -19; but mainly, if there is a generation of antibodies, which can be very important for the health authorities at the time of making decisions and adopting protocols.”

Fundación Chile’s CEO, Marcos Kulka, held that “This initiative, of great social value, has been possible due to the agile orchestration of critical entities and leaders who have put at the heart of this crisis the most vulnerable group. This is the first large-scale research worldwide in this segment. Its public interest nature will be a contribution to the local and global scientific ecosystem, and will allow us to make progress in understanding and learning about this virus. And most importantly, it will impact on a better quality of life for older adults.”

For his part, the responsible of the Covid-19 strategy at SENAMA, Pablo Pizarro, stated that “this will allow us, through a public-private alliance, to take samples in long-term care facilities in the Valparaíso, O’Higgins, and Metropolitan regions, hence determining the number of older adults that have been affected by Covid -19; but mainly, if there is a generation of antibodies, which can be very important for the health authorities at the time of making decisions and adopting protocols.”

Fundación Chile’s CEO, Marcos Kulka, held that “This initiative, of great social value, has been possible due to the agile orchestration of critical entities and leaders who have put at the heart of this crisis the most vulnerable group. This is the first large-scale research worldwide in this segment. Its public interest nature will be a contribution to the local and global scientific ecosystem, and will allow us to make progress in understanding and learning about this virus. And most importantly, it will impact on a better quality of life for older adults.”

Serological testing detects antibodies produced by the organism while responding or having responded at some point to this infection. It also determines the risk factors that are associated with the infection for SARS-CoV-2 and the presentation of symptoms in older persons and staff of each ELEAM surveyed.

Dr. Pablo Vial pointed out that “We are very happy in being able to contribute with our experience to this new seroprevalence survey, which joins others that we are carrying out in three cities of Chile. Under our public health perspective, this is an important challenge that will allow us to improve the current infection control measures in one of the groups at greatest risk – older persons. We hope that this cooperation project will be a model for future studies in the country.” In addition, he explained that serological tests allow us to know “how many people have had the infection and how many remain vulnerable to it. It is possible to know who has had the virus and if they developed immunity, antibodies” -thanks to the detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG)-.

Once the research is completed, the results of the survey will be made available to the scientific community as a public good by the Ministry of Science, in collaboration with the Adolfo Ibañez University, for further research and analysis.

The dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Sciences of the UAI, Carlos Jerez, thanked the trust of all the partners for developing a joint initiative that is a tremendous contribution for the country, “We have the mission to implement a system that allows receiving and storing safely the data of this study, especially the results of the antibody tests developed in each ELEAM, the profiles of the residents, employees, and centers. This study may become one of the largest in the world in seroprevalence that makes available the data – hosted in Data Observatory – for researchers around the globe in order to disseminate, help understanding and develop strategies to cope with it. ” 

Andres Merino, MetLife’s CEO, said, “The health and quality of life for seniors, is one of MetLife’s primary concerns. This survey will make available relevant information intended as a valuable input for public policy-making that aims to provide better health protection for one of the most at risk populations in the pandemic, as well as for their families and caregivers.” 

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