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1.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3618, 2022 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908176

ABSTRACT

Monitoring population protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for risk assessment. We hypothesize that Hong Kong's explosive Omicron BA.2 outbreak in early 2022 could be explained by low herd immunity. Our seroprevalence study using sera collected from January to December 2021 shows a very low prevalence of neutralizing antibodies (NAb) against ancestral virus among older adults. The age group-specific prevalence of NAb generally correlates with the vaccination uptake rate, but older adults have a much lower NAb seropositive rate than vaccination uptake rate. For all age groups, the seroprevalence of NAb against Omicron variant is much lower than that against the ancestral virus. Our study suggests that this BA.2 outbreak and the exceptionally high case-fatality rate in the ≥80 year-old age group (9.2%) could be attributed to the lack of protective immunity in the population, especially among the vulnerable older adults, and that ongoing sero-surveillance is essential.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Humans , Seroepidemiologic Studies
2.
Build Environ ; 221: 109323, 2022 Aug 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1906829

ABSTRACT

The phenomenon of vertical transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs) is unique in our densely populated cosmopolitan city. The compulsory testing of a whole building under the scheme of restriction-testing declaration (RTD) during the fourth wave (non-Omicron variant) and fifth wave (mostly Omicron variant) of COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong allowed us to study the prevalence of this phenomenon, which may represent a form of airborne transmission. From 23 January 2021 to 24 March 2022, 25,450 (5.8%) of 436,397 residents from 223 (63.0%) of 354 HRRBs under RTD were test-positive for SARS-CoV-2. Using the clustering of cases among vertically aligned flats with shared drainage stack and lightwell as a surrogate marker of vertical transmission, the number of vertically aligned flats with positive COVID-19 cases was significantly higher in the fifth wave compared with the fourth wave (14.2%, 6471/45,531 vs 0.24%, 3/1272; p < 0.001; or 2212 vs 1 per-million-flats; p < 0.001). Excluding 22,801 residents from 38 HRRBs who were tested negative outside the 12-week periods selected in fourth and fifth waves, the positive rate among residents was significantly higher among residents during the fifth wave than the fourth wave (6.5%, 25,434/389,700 vs 0.07%, 16/23,896; p < 0.001). Within the flats with COVID-19 cases, the proportion of vertically aligned flats was also significantly higher in the fifth wave than in the fourth wave (95.6%, 6471/6766 vs 30.0%, 3/10, p < 0.001). The proportion of HRRBs with COVID-19 cases was significantly higher during the corresponding 12-week period chosen for comparison (78.2%, 219/280 vs 11.1%, 4/36; p < 0.001). Whole-genome phylogenetic analysis of 332 viral genomes showed that Omicron BA.2 was the predominant strain, supporting the high transmissibility of BA.2 by airborne excreta-aerosol route in HRRBs of Hong Kong.

3.
Antibiotics (Basel) ; 11(6)2022 May 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1869451

ABSTRACT

Nonpharmaceutical interventions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021) have provided a unique opportunity to understand their impact on the wholesale supply of antibiotics and incidences of infections represented by bacteremia due to common bacterial species in Hong Kong. The wholesale antibiotic supply data (surrogate indicator of antibiotic consumption) and notifications of scarlet fever, chickenpox, and tuberculosis collected by the Centre for Health Protection, and the data of blood cultures of patients admitted to public hospitals in Hong Kong collected by the Hospital Authority for the last 10 years, were tabulated and analyzed. A reduction in the wholesale supply of antibiotics was observed. This decrease coincided with a significant reduction in the incidence of community-onset bacteremia due to Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria meningitidis, which are encapsulated bacteria with respiratory transmission potential. This reduction was sustained during two pandemic years (period 2: 2020-2021), compared with eight pre-pandemic years (period 1: 2012-2019). Although the mean number of patient admissions per year (1,704,079 vs. 1,702,484, p = 0.985) and blood culture requests per 1000 patient admissions (149.0 vs. 158.3, p = 0.132) were not significantly different between periods 1 and 2, a significant reduction in community-onset bacteremia due to encapsulated bacteria was observed in terms of the mean number of episodes per year (257 vs. 58, p < 0.001), episodes per 100,000 admissions (15.1 vs. 3.4, p < 0.001), and per 10,000 blood culture requests (10.1 vs. 2.1, p < 0.001), out of 17,037,598 episodes of patient admissions with 2,570,164 blood culture requests. Consistent with the findings of bacteremia, a reduction in case notification of scarlet fever and airborne infections, including tuberculosis and chickenpox, was also observed; however, there was no reduction in the incidence of hospital-onset bacteremia due to Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli. Sustained implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions against respiratory microbes may reduce the overall consumption of antibiotics, which may have a consequential impact on antimicrobial resistance. Rebound of conventional respiratory microbial infections is likely with the relaxation of these interventions.

4.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Mar 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1852993

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 can infect human and other mammals, including hamsters. Syrian (Mesocricetus auratus) and dwarf (Phodopus sp.) hamsters are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection in the laboratory setting. However, pet shop-related COVID-19 outbreaks have not been reported. METHODS: We conducted an investigation of a pet shop-related COVID-19 outbreak due to Delta variant AY.127 involving at least three patients in Hong Kong. We tested samples collected from the patients, environment, and hamsters linked to this outbreak and performed whole genome sequencing analysis of the RT-PCR-positive samples. RESULTS: The patients included a pet shop keeper (Patient 1), a female customer of the pet shop (Patient 2), and the husband of Patient 2 (Patient 3). Investigation showed that 17.2% (5/29) and 25.5% (13/51) environmental specimens collected from the pet shop and its related warehouse, respectively, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by RT-PCR. Among euthanized hamsters randomly collected from the storehouse, 3% (3/100) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by RT-PCR and seropositive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody by ELISA. Whole genome analysis showed that although all genomes from the outbreak belonged to the Delta variant AY.127, there were at least 3 nucleotide differences among the genomes from different patients and the hamster cages. Genomic analysis suggests that multiple strains have emerged within the hamster population, and these different strains have likely transmitted to human either via direct contact or via the environment. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrated probable hamster-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2. As pet trading is common around the world, this can represent a route of international spread of this pandemic virus.

5.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-332139

ABSTRACT

Monitoring population protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for risk assessment. In this serosurveillance study, older adults show much lower seropositive rates of neutralizing antibody (NAb) against ancestral virus than the younger population. The increase in NAb seopositive rate generally follows the population vaccination uptake rate, but older adults have a much lower NAb seropositive rate than vaccination uptake rate. For all age groups, the seropositive rates of NAb against Omicron variant are much lower than those against the ancestral virus. During the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong which is dominated by Omicron sublineage BA.2, the case-fatality rate is exceptionally high in the ≥80 year-old age group (9.2%). Our study suggests that the severe BA.2 outbreak in Hong Kong can be attributed by the lack of protective immunity in the population, especially among the vulnerable older adults, and highlights the importance of continual surveillance of protective immunity against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

6.
Emerg Microbes Infect ; 11(1): 689-698, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1713523

ABSTRACT

During the investigation of a pet shop outbreak of severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with probable hamster-to-human transmission, the environmental and hamster samples in epidemiologically linked pet shops were found positive for SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant AY.127 strains which are phylogenetically closely related to patients and reported European strains. This interspecies' spill-over has triggered transmission in 58 patients epidemiologically linked to three pet shops. Incidentally, three dwarf hamsters imported from the Netherlands and centralized in a warehouse distributing animals to pet shops were positive for SARS-CoV-2 spike variant phylogenetically related to European B.1.258 strains from March 2020. This B.1.258 strain almost disappeared in July 2021. While no hamster-to-human transmission of B.1.258-like strain was found in this outbreak, molecular docking showed that its spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) has a similar binding energy to human ACE2 compared to that of Delta variant AY.127. Therefore, the potential of this B.1.258-related spike variant for interspecies jumping cannot be ignored. The co-circulation of B.1.258-related spike variants with Delta AY.127, which originated in Europe and was not previously found in Hong Kong, suggested that hamsters in our wholesale warehouse and retail pet shops more likely have acquired these viruses in the Netherlands or stopovers during delivery by aviation than locally. The risk of human-to-hamster reverse zoonosis by multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants leading to further adaptive spike mutations with subsequent transmission back to humans cannot be underestimated as an outbreak source of COVID-19. Testing imported pet animals susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 is warranted to prevent future outbreaks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Cricetinae , Hong Kong , Humans , Molecular Docking Simulation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
8.
J Hazard Mater ; 430: 128504, 2022 05 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1693278

ABSTRACT

Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been increasingly recognized in the outbreak of COVID-19, especially with the Omicron variant. We investigated an outbreak due to Omicron variant in a restaurant. Besides epidemiological and phylogenetic analyses, the secondary attack rates of customers of restaurant-related COVID-19 outbreak before (Outbreak R1) and after enhancement of indoor air dilution (Outbreak R2) were compared. On 27th December 2021, an index case stayed in restaurant R2 for 98 min. Except for 1 sitting in the same table, six other secondary cases sat in 3 corners at 3 different zones, which were served by different staff. The median exposure time was 34 min (range: 19-98 min). All 7 secondary cases were phylogenetically related to the index. Smoke test demonstrated that the airflow direction may explain the distribution of secondary cases. Compared with an earlier COVID-19 outbreak in another restaurant R1 (19th February 2021), which occurred prior to the mandatory enhancement of indoor air dilution, the secondary attack rate among customers in R2 was significantly lower than that in R1 (3.4%, 7/207 vs 28.9%, 22/76, p<0.001). Enhancement of indoor air dilution through ventilation and installation of air purifier could minimize the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the restaurants.


Subject(s)
Air Pollution, Indoor , COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , Phylogeny , Restaurants , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
9.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; 17: 100281, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446927

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Global dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern (VOCs) remains a concern. The aim of this study is to describe how mass testing and phylogenetic analysis successfully prevented local transmission of SARS-CoV-2 VOC in a densely populated city with low herd immunity for COVID-19. METHODS: In this descriptive study, we conducted contact tracing, quarantine, and mass testing of the potentially exposed contacts with the index case. Epidemiological investigation and phylogeographic analysis were performed. FINDINGS: Among 11,818 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 diagnosed till 13th May 2021 in Hong Kong, SARS-CoV-2 VOCs were found in 271 (2.3%) cases. Except for 10 locally acquired secondary cases, all SARS-CoV-2 VOCs were imported or acquired in quarantine hotels. The index case of this SARS-CoV-2 VOC B.1.351 epidemic, an inbound traveler with asymptomatic infection, was diagnosed 9 days after completing 21 days of quarantine. Contact tracing of 163 contacts in household, hotel, and residential building only revealed 1 (0.6%) secondary case. A symptomatic foreign domestic helper (FDH) without apparent epidemiological link but infected by virus with identical genome sequence was subsequently confirmed. Mass testing of 0.34 million FDHs identified two more cases which were phylogenetically linked. A total of 10 secondary cases were identified that were related to two household gatherings. The clinical attack rate of household close contact was significantly higher than non-household exposure during quarantine (7/25, 28% vs 0/2051, 0%; p<0.001). INTERPRETATION: The rising epidemic of SARS-CoV-2 VOC transmission could be successfully controlled by contact tracing, quarantine, and rapid genome sequencing complemented by mass testing. FUNDING: Health and Medical Research Fund Commissioned Research on Control of Infectious Disease (see acknowledgments for full list).

10.
Vaccine ; 39(25): 3372-3378, 2021 06 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1233628

ABSTRACT

Effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine (SIV) varies with the degree of matching with the vaccine and circulating viruses. We continued our SIV effectiveness against medically-attended influenza-like illness (ILI) under the Department of Health Hong Kong's sentinel private medical practitioners (PMP) network, using the test-negative case-control design, for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 season. In addition, we studied the potential interference between SIV and ILI caused by non-influenza respiratory viruses (NIRV) based on data collated from 2017/18 to 2019/20 seasons. 3404 patients were analysed. Across the 2017/18 to 2019/20 seasons, the vaccine effectiveness (VE) of SIV was 44% (95% CI 30-56%) against pan-negative controls, 57% (95%CI. 42-68%) against NIRV controls and 50% (95%CI 38-59%) against both. SIV was moderately effective against medically-attended ILI caused by influenza A/B in both 2018/19 and 2019/20 winter seasons (53.2% (95%CI 36.7-65.5%) and 41.8% (95%CI 6.3-64.1%), respectively). The VE against the main circulating subtype, influenza A(H1), was higher for the 2018/19 season (57.2% (95%CI 39.8-69.9%), compared to 34.6% (95%CI -9.6-61.4%) in the 2019/20 season). When compared to pan negative controls, those with single NIRV infections were similarly likely to have received SIV (OR 1.05 (95%CI 0.72-1.54) within the influenza season; OR 0.97 (95%CI 0.73-1.29) when including non-influenza seasons). Analyses by type of virus showed no increased risk of SIV identified among those with single infections of EV/RV, HMPV and parainfluenza but a 2-fold increased risk was shown for those with single infections of adenovirus and parainfluenza virus (adenovirus: OR 2.54 (95%CI 1.24-5.14) within influenza season and OR 1.78 (95%CI 1.01-3.09) for the whole period; parainfluenza virus: OR 2.01 (95%CI 1.22-3.29) within influenza season and OR 1.89 (95%CI 1.29-2.76) for the whole period). SIV programme and surveillance of influenza and NIRV, including SARS-CoV-2, should continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype , Influenza Vaccines , Influenza, Human , Case-Control Studies , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Humans , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Pandemics , Primary Health Care , SARS-CoV-2 , Seasons , Vaccination
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