Collaborative research

on acute respiratory infections, tuberculosis, antimicrobial resistance, and emerging pathogens.

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Asia – Bangladesh

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 circulation and serological response in the Forcibly Displaced Rohingya Myanmar National (FDMN) population in Cox’s Bazar.


Living conditions in refugee camps accelerate the spread of infectious diseases, particularly viruses responsible for respiratory infections, one of the leading causes of infant mortality. Working with the Institute for Developing Science and Health initiatives (IdeSHi), this research project is led in the camps of Cox’s Bazar, in Ukhia region, to understand the viral transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the risk factors that increase transmission, and to provide prevention recommendations.


Despite growing concerns about the high morbidity of respiratory infections in refugee camps, the viral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in children and adults in epidemic crisis situations is poorly documented. The realized study is a multi-center observational study to measure the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the Rohingya population to assess but also improve the control of the infection. This study will determine the prevalence and the serological response of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen in children and adults with evidence of COVID-19 infection. Moreover, an analysis will be used to compare and analyze samples in an established biobank to trace the circulation of this virus before the beginning of the pandemic. The data obtained on the etiology of COVID-19 in crisis situations will provide urgently needed evidence for case management, care delivery, and vaccination strategies in the future.

The aim objectives of the project are:

  • Improve the understanding of viral transmission and epidemiological patterns of SARS-CoV-2 circulation in refugee camps before and during the epidemic,
  • Assess the serological response to SARS-CoV-2 from identified COVID-19 cases and their contacts,
  • Assess the risk factors that increase transmission, especially in refugee camps,
  • Improve best practices for implementing infection prevention and control, particularly in an epidemic.


The setting, a refugee camp, and the subject of the study, the COVID-19 pandemic, make this project doubly complex.

As part of this project, a longitudinal recruitment follow-up is in place, with 400 index cases and 500 cases in the recruited households. Field audit missions to ensure compliance for the launch and conduct of the study were conducted beforehand.


  • lnstitute for Developing Science and Health lnitiatives (ideSHi), Bangladesh
  • IOM, Bangladesh