SARS-CoV-2 Cumulative Incidence and Period Seroprevalence: Results From a Statewide Population-Based Serosurvey in California
California has reported the largest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases of any US state, with more than 3.5 million confirmed as of March 2021. However, the full breadth of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission in California is unknown as reported cases only represent a fraction of all infections.
We conducted a population-based serosurvey, utilizing mailed, home-based SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing along with a demographic and behavioral survey. We weighted data from a random sample to represent the adult California population and estimated period seroprevalence overall and by participant characteristics. Seroprevalence estimates were adjusted for waning antibodies to produce statewide estimates of cumulative incidence, the infection fatality ratio (IFR), and the reported fraction.
California’s SARS-CoV-2 weighted seroprevalence during August–December 2020 was 4.6% (95% CI, 2.8%–7.4%). Estimated cumulative incidence as of November 2, 2020, was 8.7% (95% CrI, 6.4%–11.5%), indicating that 2 660 441 adults (95% CrI, 1 959 218–3 532 380) had been infected. The estimated IFR was 0.8% (95% CrI, 0.6%–1.0%), and the estimated percentage of infections reported to the California Department of Public Health was 31%. Disparately high risk for infection was observed among persons of Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity and people with no health insurance and who reported working outside the home.
We present the first statewide SARS-CoV-2 cumulative incidence estimate among adults in California. As of November 2020, ~1 in 3 SARS-CoV-2 infections in California adults had been identified by public health surveillance. When accounting for unreported SARS-CoV-2 infections, disparities by race/ethnicity seen in case-based surveillance persist.