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  • Prevalence of common human coronavirus (HCoV) infections

Systematic review

Prevalence of common human coronavirus (HCoV) infections: a rapid review

Published

Division for Health Services at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) conducted a rapid review of prevalence of common human coronaviruses. This rapid review was commissioned by the Division for Infection Control, NIPH.

Forside_prevalence HCov_ENG.jpg

Division for Health Services at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) conducted a rapid review of prevalence of common human coronaviruses. This rapid review was commissioned by the Division for Infection Control, NIPH.


Downloadable as PDF. In English. Key messages in Norwegian.

About this publication

  • Year: 2022
  • By: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Authors Flodgren GM, Steiro A, Brurberg K, Rose C.
  • ISBN: 978-82-8406-311-9

Key message

Division for Health Services at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) conducted a rapid review of prevalence of common human coronaviruses (HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, HCoV-229E, and HCoV- HKU1). This rapid review was commissioned by the Division for Infection Control, NIPH.

We included 83 original studies that reported prevalence of common HCoVs. Prevalence was analysed in association with age, geographic regions and country income levels. Fifteen studies also reported on co-infections between different HCoV strains. The results show:

  • Mean prevalence og HCoV across ten geographic regions throughout the world was 4%
  • Prevalence of HCoVs was possibly lower in the South-East and East Asian geographical regions (2-3%) compared to African regions (6-14%)
  • Prevalence of HCoVs among infants and children (5%) was possibly lower than among adults and older adults (3%)
  • We could not detect a consistant relationship between HCoV prevalence and country income level
  • HCoVs are more frequently observed in association with upper respiratory tract infections (RTI) (6%) than in lower RTIs (3%)
  • In the period between 2005 and 2018, there was little variations in the prevalence of HCoV over time
  • Co-infections between HCoV strains ranged from median 3% (0.2 to 13.8) for OC43+HKU1 to median 2.1% (0.5 to 10.0) for OC43+229E
  • Co-infections with other respiratory virus were common (around 47% of HCoV positive cases).
  • Few studies reported data for low-income countries, and data on RTI type, admission status, and study location were in many studies unclear or lacking.
  • None of the included studies reported on social determinants of health (e.g. minority status and SES), and therefore equity issues related to HCoV prevalence could not be addressed in this review.

Future studies should aim to collect data on social determinants of health, use standardized sample types for PCR analysis, and improve reporting in general.