Surveillance Open Access
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The COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges for the existing respiratory surveillance systems, and adaptations were implemented. Systematic assessment of the syndromic and sentinel surveillance platforms during the pandemic is essential for understanding the value of each platform in the context of an emerging pathogen with rapid global spread.


We aimed to evaluate systematically the performance of various respiratory syndromic surveillance platforms and the sentinel surveillance system in Israel from 1 January to 31 December 2020.


We compared the 2020 syndromic surveillance trends to those of the previous 3 years, using Poisson regression adjusted for overdispersion. To assess the performance of the sentinel clinic system as compared with the national SARS-CoV-2 repository, a cubic spline with 7 knots and 95% confidence intervals were applied to the sentinel network's weekly percentage of positive SARS-CoV-2 cases.


Syndromic surveillance trends changed substantially during 2020, with a statistically significant reduction in the rates of visits to physicians and emergency departments to below previous years' levels. Morbidity patterns of the syndromic surveillance platforms were inconsistent with the progress of the pandemic, while the sentinel surveillance platform was found to reflect the national circulation of SARS-CoV-2 in the population.


Our findings reveal the robustness of the sentinel clinics platform for the surveillance of the main respiratory viruses during the pandemic and possibly beyond. The robustness of the sentinel clinics platform during 2020 supports its use in locations with insufficient resources for widespread testing of respiratory viruses.


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