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We systematically reviewed the current understanding of human population immunity against SARS-CoV in different groups, settings and geography. Our meta-analysis, which included all identified studies except those on wild animal handlers, yielded an overall seroprevalence of 0.10% [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.02-0.18]. Health-care workers and others who had close contact with SARS patients had a slightly higher degree of seroconversion (0.23%, 95% CI 0.02-0.45) compared to healthy blood donors, others from the general community or non-SARS patients recruited from the health-care setting (0.16%, 95% CI 0-0.37). When analysed by the two broad classes of testing procedures, it is clear that serial confirmatory test protocols resulted in a much lower estimate (0.050%, 95% CI 0-0.15) than single test protocols (0.20%, 95% CI 0.06-0.34). Potential epidemiological and laboratory pitfalls are also discussed as they may give rise to false or inconsistent results in measuring the seroprevalence of IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV.

Original publication




Journal article


Epidemiology and infection

Publication Date





211 - 221


Department of Community Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, ChinaTakemi Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


Humans, SARS Virus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Immunoglobulin G, Seroepidemiologic Studies, Antibody Formation, Geography, Health Personnel, Blood Donors