NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

Sero-surveillance to monitor transmission in rural Western India

This project is based at King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital Research Centre, Pune in India


  • Project title:  Establishing sentinel sero-surveillance to monitor the trend of SARS-CoV-2 infection transmission in the general population in rural Western India
  • Based at:  KEM Hospital Research Centre, Pune (KEMHRC)
  • Start date: December 2020
  • End date: August 2021
  • Principal investigator:  Professor Sanjay Juvekar
  • Project team:  Dr Sonali Sanghvi, Dr Sudipto Roy, Dr Ashish Bavdekar, Dr Sanjay Mehendale, Dr Manoj Murhekar, Dr Santhosh Kumar, Professor Harish Nair, Rutuja Patil. Collaborating Investigator: Professor Gagandeep Kang.


Serological surveillance programmes are a potentially powerful tool during the coronavirus pandemic, monitoring levels of infection and immunity within a population. The World Health Organisation (WHO) global research map for COVID-19 recommends population level seroepidemiological studies, to understand the extent of COVID-19 spread and the impact of the different public health measures.

The WHO-China joint monitoring mission observed that among laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases, approximately 80% were mild to moderate. Such cases, along with asymptomatic infections, are unlikely to be picked up by hospital-based surveillance systems.

Household-based studies can generate evidence on the role of asymptomatic and mild infections in transmission. Community-based seroepidemiological studies also provide an opportunity to answer important questions on: the proportion of individuals in the community who have been infected; how many have developed neutralizing antibodies; and how long will the immunity last?

Answering these questions will be critical to improving prevention and control in the community and also for identifying areas with high COVID-19 disease burden to be selected for future vaccine trials.

Aim and impact

This globally relevant study aims to estimate the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a rural population in India. The study will help to determine the burden of COVID-19 infection at the community level and monitor the trends in transmission of the infection. The study will also examine the risk factors for infection, and the morbidity status and quality of life in individuals with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity.

The project findings will be useful to guide the design and implementation of appropriate interventions and containment measures in India, with the potential to inform other low-and-middle income country responses.

Key developments

  • Project final report submitted.

Project data

Download the project Data Management Plan

View the project metadata on the Health Data Research Innovations Gateway