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BMC Infect Dis ; 21(1): 925, 2021 Sep 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1398842


BACKGROUND: In the 2nd year of the COVID-19 pandemic, knowledge about the dynamics of the infection in the general population is still limited. Such information is essential for health planners, as many of those infected show no or only mild symptoms and thus, escape the surveillance system. We therefore aimed to describe the course of the pandemic in the Munich general population living in private households from April 2020 to January 2021. METHODS: The KoCo19 baseline study took place from April to June 2020 including 5313 participants (age 14 years and above). From November 2020 to January 2021, we could again measure SARS-CoV-2 antibody status in 4433 of the baseline participants (response 83%). Participants were offered a self-sampling kit to take a capillary blood sample (dry blood spot; DBS). Blood was analysed using the Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assay (Roche). Questionnaire information on socio-demographics and potential risk factors assessed at baseline was available for all participants. In addition, follow-up information on health-risk taking behaviour and number of personal contacts outside the household (N = 2768) as well as leisure time activities (N = 1263) were collected in summer 2020. RESULTS: Weighted and adjusted (for specificity and sensitivity) SARS-CoV-2 sero-prevalence at follow-up was 3.6% (95% CI 2.9-4.3%) as compared to 1.8% (95% CI 1.3-3.4%) at baseline. 91% of those tested positive at baseline were also antibody-positive at follow-up. While sero-prevalence increased from early November 2020 to January 2021, no indication of geospatial clustering across the city of Munich was found, although cases clustered within households. Taking baseline result and time to follow-up into account, men and participants in the age group 20-34 years were at the highest risk of sero-positivity. In the sensitivity analyses, differences in health-risk taking behaviour, number of personal contacts and leisure time activities partly explained these differences. CONCLUSION: The number of citizens in Munich with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was still below 5% during the 2nd wave of the pandemic. Antibodies remained present in the majority of SARS-CoV-2 sero-positive baseline participants. Besides age and sex, potentially confounded by differences in behaviour, no major risk factors could be identified. Non-pharmaceutical public health measures are thus still important.

COVID-19 , Pandemics , Follow-Up Studies , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Infant, Newborn , Male , SARS-CoV-2
EBioMedicine ; 70: 103502, 2021 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1330765


BACKGROUND: Since 2020 SARS-CoV-2 spreads pandemically, infecting more than 119 million people, causing >2·6 million fatalities. Symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection vary greatly, ranging from asymptomatic to fatal. Different populations react differently to the disease, making it very hard to track the spread of the infection in a population. Measuring specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies is an important tool to assess the spread of the infection or successful vaccinations. To achieve sufficient sample numbers, alternatives to venous blood sampling are needed not requiring medical personnel or cold-chains. Dried-blood-spots (DBS) on filter-cards have been used for different studies, but not routinely for serology. METHODS: We developed a semi-automated protocol using self-sampled DBS for SARS-CoV-2 serology. It was validated in a cohort of matched DBS and venous-blood samples (n = 1710). Feasibility is demonstrated with two large serosurveys with 10247 company employees and a population cohort of 4465 participants. FINDINGS: Sensitivity and specificity reached 99·20% and 98·65%, respectively. Providing written instructions and video tutorials, 99·87% (4465/4471) of the unsupervised home sampling DBS cards could be analysed. INTERPRETATION: DBS-sampling is a valid and highly reliable tool for large scale serosurveys. We demonstrate feasibility and accuracy with a large validation cohort including unsupervised home sampling. This protocol might be of big importance for surveillance in resource-limited settings, providing low-cost highly accurate serology data. FUNDING: Provided by Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts, LMU University-Hospital; Helmholtz-Centre-Munich, German Ministry for Education and Research (project01KI20271); University of Bonn; University of Bielefeld; the Medical Biodefense Research Program of Bundeswehr-Medical-Service; Euroimmun, RocheDiagnostics provided discounted kits and machines.

Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Biological Assay/methods , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/immunology , Dried Blood Spot Testing/methods , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Asymptomatic Infections , Cohort Studies , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Sensitivity and Specificity , Specimen Handling/methods , Vaccination/methods
Sci Total Environ ; 797: 149031, 2021 Nov 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1322345


Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a tool now increasingly proposed to monitor the SARS-CoV-2 burden in populations without the need for individual mass testing. It is especially interesting in metropolitan areas where spread can be very fast, and proper sewage systems are available for sampling with short flow times and thus little decay of the virus. We started in March 2020 to set up a once-a-week qualified spot sampling protocol in six different locations in Munich carefully chosen to contain primarily wastewater of permanent residential areas, rather than industry or hospitals. We used RT-PCR and sequencing to track the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the Munich population with temporo-spatial resolution. The study became fully operational in mid-April 2020 and has been tracking SARS-CoV-2 RNA load weekly for one year. Sequencing of the isolated viral RNA was performed to obtain information about the presence and abundance of variants of concern in the Munich area over time. We demonstrate that the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 RNA loads (between <7.5 and 3874/ml) in these different areas within Munich correlates well with official seven day incidence notification data (between 0.0 and 327 per 100,000) obtained from the authorities within the respective region. Wastewater viral loads predicted the dynamic of SARS-CoV-2 local incidence about 3 weeks in advance of data based on respiratory swab analyses. Aligning with multiple different point-mutations characteristic for certain variants of concern, we could demonstrate the gradual increase of variant of concern B.1.1.7 in the Munich population beginning in January 2021, weeks before it became apparent in sequencing results of swabs samples taken from patients living in Munich. Overall, the study highlights the potential of WBE to monitor the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, including the introduction of variants of concern in a local population.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , RNA, Viral , Sewage , Waste Water