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BACKGROUND: Data on SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy and infancy has accumulated throughout the course of the pandemic, though evidence regarding asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and adverse birth outcomes are scarce. Limited information is available from countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The pregnant woman and infant COVID in Africa study (PeriCOVID Africa) is a South-South-North partnership involving hospitals and health centres in five countries: Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, The Gambia, and Kenya. The study leveraged data from three ongoing prospective cohort studies: Preparing for Group B Streptococcal Vaccines (GBS PREPARE), SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 in women and their infants in Kampala and Mukono (COMAC) and Pregnancy Care Integrating Translational Science Everywhere (PRECISE). In this paper we describe the seroepidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnant women enrolled in sites in Uganda and Malawi, and the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on pregnancy and infant outcomes. OUTCOME: Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in maternal blood, reported as the proportion of seropositive women by study site and wave of COVID-19 within each country. METHODS: The PeriCOVID study was a prospective mother-infant cohort study that recruited pregnant women at any gestation antenatally or on the day of delivery. Maternal and cord blood samples were tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using Wantai and Euroimmune ELISA. In periCOVID Uganda and Malawi nose and throat swabs for SARS-Cov-2 RT-PCR were obtained. RESULTS: In total, 1379 women were enrolled, giving birth to 1387 infants. Overall, 63% of pregnant women had a SARS-CoV-2 positive serology. Over subsequent waves (delta and omicron), in the absence of vaccination, seropositivity rose from 20% to over 80%. The placental transfer GMR was 1.7, indicating active placental transfer of anti-spike IgG. There was no association between SARS-CoV-2 antibody positivity and adverse pregnancy or infancy outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Infant, Humans, Female, Pregnancy, SARS-CoV-2, Pregnant Women, COVID-19, Prospective Studies, Seroepidemiologic Studies, Malawi, Cohort Studies, Uganda, Placenta, Pregnancy Complications, Infectious