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1.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.07.15.21260537

ABSTRACT

Objectives - To characterise within-hospital SARS-CoV-2 transmission across two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. Design - A retrospective Bayesian modelling study to reconstruct transmission chains amongst 2181 patients and healthcare workers using combined viral genomic and epidemiological data. Setting - A large UK NHS Trust with over 1400 beds and employing approximately 17,000 staff. Participants - 780 patients and 522 staff testing SARS-CoV-2 positive between 1st March 2020 and 25th July 2020 (Wave 1); and 580 patients and 299 staff testing SARS-CoV-2 positive between 30th November 2020 and 24th January 2021 (Wave 2). Main outcome measures - Transmission pairs including who-infected-whom; location of transmission events in hospital; number of secondary cases from each individual, including differences in onward transmission from community and hospital onset patient cases. Results - Staff-to-staff transmission was estimated to be the most frequent transmission type during Wave 1 (31.6% of observed hospital-acquired infections; 95% CI 26.9 to 35.8%), decreasing to 12.9% (95% CI 9.5 to 15.9%) in Wave 2. Patient-to-patient transmissions increased from 27.1% in Wave 1 (95% CI 23.3 to 31.4%) to 52.1% (95% CI 48.0 to 57.1%) in Wave 2, to become the predominant transmission type. Over 50% of hospital-acquired infections were concentrated in 8/120 locations in Wave 1 and 10/93 locations in Wave 2. Approximately 40% to 50% of hospital-onset patient cases resulted in onward transmission compared to less than 4% of definite community-acquired cases. Conclusions - Prevention and control measures that evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a significant impact on reducing infections between healthcare workers, but were insufficient during the second wave to prevent a high number of patient-to-patient transmissions. As hospital-acquired cases appeared to drive most onward transmissions, more frequent and rapid identification and isolation of these cases will be required to break hospital transmission chains in subsequent pandemic waves

2.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.07.07.21260151

ABSTRACT

BackgroundWe aimed to measure SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in a cohort of healthcare workers (HCWs) during the first UK wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, explore risk factors associated with infection, and investigate the impact of antibody titres on assay sensitivity. MethodsHCWs at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH) were prospectively enrolled and sampled at two time points. SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were tested using an in-house assay for IgG and IgA reactivity against Spike and Nucleoprotein (sensitivity 99{middle dot}47%, specificity 99{middle dot}56%). Data were analysed using three statistical models: a seroprevalence model, an antibody kinetics model, and a heterogeneous sensitivity model. FindingsAs of 12th June 2020, 24{middle dot}4% (n=311/1275) HCWs were seropositive. Of these, 39{middle dot}2% (n=122/311) were asymptomatic. The highest adjusted seroprevalence was measured in HCWs on the Acute Medical Unit (41{middle dot}1%, 95% CrI 30{middle dot}0-52{middle dot}9) and in Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists (39{middle dot}2%, 95% CrI 24{middle dot}4-56{middle dot}5). Older age groups showed overall higher median antibody titres. Further modelling suggests that, for a serological assay with an overall sensitivity of 80%, antibody titres may be markedly affected by differences in age, with sensitivity estimates of 89% in those over 60 years but 61% in those [≤]30 years. InterpretationHCWs in acute medical units working closely with COVID-19 patients were at highest risk of infection, though whether these are infections acquired from patients or other staff is unknown. Current serological assays may underestimate seroprevalence in younger age groups if validated using sera from older and/or more symptomatic individuals. Research in contextO_ST_ABSEvidence before this studyC_ST_ABSWe searched PubMed for studies published up to March 6th 2021, using the terms "COVID", "SARS-CoV-2", "seroprevalence", and "healthcare workers", and in addition for articles of antibody titres in different age groups against coronaviruses using "coronavirus", "SARS-CoV-2, "antibody", "antibody tires", "COVID" and "age". We included studies that used serology to estimate prevalence in healthcare workers. SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence has been shown to be greater in healthcare workers working on acute medical units or within domestic services. Antibody levels against seasonal coronaviruses, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 were found to be higher in older adults, and patients who were hospitalised. Added value of this studyIn this healthcare worker seroprevalence modelling study at a large NHS foundation trust, we confirm that those working on acute medical units, COVID-19 "Red Zones" and within domestic services are most likely to be seropositive. Furthermore, we show that physiotherapists and occupational therapists have an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. We also confirm that antibody titres are greater in older individuals, even in the context of non-hospitalised cases. Importantly, we demonstrate that this can result in age-specific sensitivity in serological assays, where lower antibody titres in younger individuals results in lower assay sensitivity. Implications of all the available evidenceThere are distinct occupational roles and locations in hospitals where the risk of COVID-19 infection to healthcare workers is greatest, and this knowledge should be used to prioritise infection prevention control and other measures to protect healthcare workers. Serological assays may have different sensitivity profiles across different age groups, especially if assay validation was undertaken using samples from older and/or hospitalised patients, who tend to have higher antibody titres. Future seroprevalence studies should consider adjusting for age-specific assay sensitivities to estimate true seroprevalence rates. Author Contributions O_TBL View this table: org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@77acb4org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@eb9b35org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@1af298org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@12cf3e1org.highwire.dtl.DTLVardef@3f6476_HPS_FORMAT_FIGEXP M_TBL C_TBL

3.
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.05.05.21256384

ABSTRACT

Since identification of the first Sri Lankan individual with the SARS-CoV-2 in early March 2020, small clusters that occurred were largely contained until the current extensive outbreak that started in early October 2020. In order to understand the molecular epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in Sri Lanka, we carried out genomic sequencing overlaid on available epidemiological data. The B.1.411 lineage was most prevalent, which was established in Sri Lanka and caused outbreaks throughout the country. The estimated time of the most recent common ancestor of this lineage was 10th August 2020 (95% lower and upper bounds 6th July to 7th September), suggesting cryptic transmission may have occurred, prior to a large epidemic starting in October 2020. Returning travellers were identified with infections caused by lineage B.1.258 , as well as the more transmissible B.1.1.7 lineage. Ongoing genomic surveillance in Sri Lanka is vital as vaccine roll-out increases.

4.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.04.08.438904

ABSTRACT

We identify amino acid variants within dominant SARS-CoV-2 T-cell epitopes by interrogating global sequence data. Several variants within nucleocapsid and ORF3a epitopes have arisen independently in multiple lineages and result in loss of recognition by epitope-specific T-cells assessed by IFN-{gamma} and cytotoxic killing assays. These data demonstrate the potential for T-cell evasion and highlight the need for ongoing surveillance for variants capable of escaping T-cell as well as humoral immunity.

5.
biorxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.03.02.433156

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 viruses are more transmissible, may lead to greater clinical severity, and result in modest reductions in antibody neutralization. subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) is produced by discontinuous transcription of the SARS-CoV-2 genome and is a crucial step in the SARS-CoV-2 life cycle. Applying our tool (periscope) to ARTIC Network Oxford Nanopore genomic sequencing data from 4400 SARS-CoV-2 positive clinical samples, we show that normalised sgRNA expression profiles are significantly increased in B.1.1.7 infections (n=879). This increase is seen over the previous dominant circulating lineage in the UK, B.1.177 (n=943), which is independent of genomic reads, E gene cycle threshold and day of illness when sampling occurred. A noncanonical subgenomic RNA which could represent ORF9b is significantly enriched in B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 infections, potentially as a result of a triple nucleotide mutation leading to amino acid substitution D3L in nucleocapsid in this lineage which increases complementarity with the genomic leader sequence. These findings provide a unique insight into the biology of B.1.1.7 and support monitoring of sgRNA profiles in sequence data to evaluate emerging potential variants of concern.

6.
medrxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.11.12.20230326

ABSTRACT

Background: Rapid identification and investigation of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) is important for suppression of SARS-CoV-2, but the infection source for hospital onset COVID-19 infections (HOCIs) cannot always be readily identified based only on epidemiological data. Viral sequencing data provides additional information regarding potential transmission clusters, but the low mutation rate of SARS-CoV-2 can make interpretation using standard phylogenetic methods difficult. Methods: We developed a novel statistical method and sequence reporting tool (SRT) that combines epidemiological and sequence data in order to provide a rapid assessment of the probability of HCAI among HOCI cases (defined as first positive test >48 hours following admission) and to identify infections that could plausibly constitute outbreak events. The method is designed for prospective use, but was validated using retrospective datasets from hospitals in Glasgow and Sheffield collected February-May 2020. Results: We analysed data from 326 HOCIs. Among HOCIs with time-from-admission [≥]8 days the SRT algorithm identified close sequence matches from the same ward for 160/244 (65.6%) and in the remainder 68/84 (81.0%) had at least one similar sequence elsewhere in the hospital, resulting in high estimated probabilities of within-ward and within-hospital transmission. For HOCIs with time-from-admission 3-7 days, the SRT probability of healthcare acquisition was >0.5 in 33/82 (40.2%). Conclusions: The methodology developed can provide rapid feedback on HOCIs that could be useful for infection prevention and control teams, and warrants further prospective evaluation. The integration of epidemiological and sequence data is important given the low mutation rate of SARS-CoV-2 and its variable incubation period.

7.
biorxiv; 2020.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2020.07.01.181867

ABSTRACT

We have developed periscope, a tool for the detection and quantification of sub-genomic RNA in ARTIC network protocol generated Nanopore SARS-CoV-2 sequence data. We applied periscope to 1155 SARS-CoV-2 sequences from Sheffield, UK. Using a simple local alignment to detect reads which contain the leader sequence we were able to identify and quantify reads arising from canonical and non-canonical sub-genomic RNA. We were able to detect all canonical sub-genomic RNAs at expected abundances, with the exception of ORF10, suggesting that this is not a functional ORF. A number of recurrent non-canonical sub-genomic RNAs are detected. We show that the results are reproducible using technical replicates and determine the optimum number of reads for sub-genomic RNA analysis. Finally variants found in genomic RNA are transmitted to sub-genomic RNAs with high fidelity in most cases. This tool can be applied to tens of thousands of sequences worldwide to provide the most comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2 sub-genomic RNA to date.

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