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1.
EClinicalMedicine ; 45: 101319, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1704577

ABSTRACT

Background: The role of educational settings in SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission remains controversial. We investigated SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence, and seroconversion rates in secondary schools during the 2020/21 academic year, which included the emergence of the more transmissible alpha and delta variants, in England. Methods: The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) initiated prospective surveillance in 18 urban English secondary schools. Participants had nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and blood sampling for SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein and spike protein antibodies at the start (Round 1: September-October 2020) and end (Round 2: December 2020) of the autumn term, when schools reopened after national lockdown was imposed in January 2021 (Round 3: March-April 2021), and end of the academic year (Round 4: May-July 2021). Findings: We enrolled 2314 participants (1277 students, 1037 staff; one participant had missing data for PCR testing). In-school testing identified 31 PCR-positive participants (20 students, 11 staff). Another 247 confirmed cases (112 students, 135 staff) were identified after linkage with national surveillance data, giving an overall positivity rate of 12.0% (278/2313; staff: 14.1%, 146/1037 vs students: 10.3%, 132/1276; p = 0.006). Trends were similar to national infection data. Nucleoprotein-antibody seroprevalence increased for students and staff between Rounds 1 and 3 but were similar between Rounds 3 and 4, when the delta variant was the dominant circulating strain. Overall, Nucleoprotein-antibody seroconversion was 18.4% (137/744) in staff and 18.8% (146/778) in students, while Spike-antibody seroconversion was higher in staff (72.8%, 525/721) than students (21.3%, 163/764) because of vaccination. Interpretation: SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in secondary schools remained low when community infection rates were low, even as the delta variant was emerging in England. Funding: This study was funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

2.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0262515, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1690740

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Following the full re-opening of schools in England and emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant, we investigated the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in students and staff who were contacts of a confirmed case in a school bubble (school groupings with limited interactions), along with their household members. METHODS: Primary and secondary school bubbles were recruited into sKIDsBUBBLE after being sent home to self-isolate following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the bubble. Bubble participants and their household members were sent home-testing kits comprising nasal swabs for RT-PCR testing and whole genome sequencing, and oral fluid swabs for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. RESULTS: During November-December 2020, 14 bubbles were recruited from 7 schools, including 269 bubble contacts (248 students, 21 staff) and 823 household contacts (524 adults, 299 children). The secondary attack rate was 10.0% (6/60) in primary and 3.9% (4/102) in secondary school students, compared to 6.3% (1/16) and 0% (0/1) among staff, respectively. The incidence rate for household contacts of primary school students was 6.6% (12/183) and 3.7% (1/27) for household contacts of primary school staff. In secondary schools, this was 3.5% (11/317) and 0% (0/1), respectively. Household contacts were more likely to test positive if their bubble contact tested positive although there were new infections among household contacts of uninfected bubble contacts. INTERPRETATION: Compared to other institutional settings, the overall risk of secondary infection in school bubbles and their household contacts was low. Our findings are important for developing evidence-based infection prevention guidelines for educational settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Adolescent , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/virology , Child , Contact Tracing , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Nasopharynx/virology , Prospective Studies , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Schools/statistics & numerical data , Students/statistics & numerical data
3.
Microbiol Spectr ; 10(1): e0078621, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1605388

ABSTRACT

Seroepidemiological studies to monitor antibody kinetics are important for assessing the extent and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in a population. Noninvasive sampling methods are advantageous for reducing the need for venipuncture, which may be a barrier to investigations, particularly in pediatric populations. Oral fluids are obtained by gingiva-crevicular sampling from children and adults and are very well accepted. Enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) based on these samples have acceptable sensitivity and specificity compared to conventional serum-based antibody EIAs and are suitable for population-based surveillance. We describe the development and evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 IgG EIAs using SARS-CoV-2 viral nucleoprotein (NP) and spike (S) proteins in IgG isotype capture format and an indirect receptor-binding-domain (RBD) IgG EIA, intended for use in children as a primary endpoint. All three assays were assessed using a panel of 1,999 paired serum and oral fluids from children and adults participating in school SARS-CoV-2 surveillance studies during and after the first and second pandemic wave in the United Kingdom. The anti-NP IgG capture assay was the best candidate, with an overall sensitivity of 75% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 71 to 79%) and specificity of 99% (95% CI: 78 to 99%) compared with paired serum antibodies. Sensitivity observed in children (80%, 95% CI: 71 to 88%) was higher than that in adults (67%, CI: 60% to 74%). Oral fluid assays (OF) using spike protein and RBD antigens were also 99% specific and achieved reasonable but lower sensitivity in the target population (78%, 95% CI [68% to 86%] and 53%, 95% CI [43% to 64%], respectively). IMPORTANCE We report on the first large-scale assessment of the suitability of oral fluids for detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibody obtained from healthy children attending school. The sample type (gingiva-crevicular fluid, which is a transudate of blood but is not saliva) can be self collected. Although detection of antibodies in oral fluids is less sensitive than that in blood, our study suggests an optimal format for operational use. The laboratory methods we have developed can reliably measure antibodies in children, who are able to take their own samples. Our findings are of immediate practical relevance for use in large-scale seroprevalence studies designed to measure exposure to infection, as they typically require venipuncture. Overall, our data indicate that OF assays based on the detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are a tool suitable for population-based seroepidemiology studies in children and highly acceptable in children and adults, as venipuncture is no longer necessary.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/diagnosis , Gingival Crevicular Fluid/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adolescent , Child , Child, Preschool , Humans , Immunoenzyme Techniques , Infant , Sensitivity and Specificity , Seroepidemiologic Studies
4.
Nat Immunol ; 23(1): 40-49, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585824

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 infection is generally mild or asymptomatic in children but a biological basis for this outcome is unclear. Here we compare antibody and cellular immunity in children (aged 3-11 years) and adults. Antibody responses against spike protein were high in children and seroconversion boosted responses against seasonal Beta-coronaviruses through cross-recognition of the S2 domain. Neutralization of viral variants was comparable between children and adults. Spike-specific T cell responses were more than twice as high in children and were also detected in many seronegative children, indicating pre-existing cross-reactive responses to seasonal coronaviruses. Importantly, children retained antibody and cellular responses 6 months after infection, whereas relative waning occurred in adults. Spike-specific responses were also broadly stable beyond 12 months. Therefore, children generate robust, cross-reactive and sustained immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 with focused specificity for the spike protein. These findings provide insight into the relative clinical protection that occurs in most children and might help to guide the design of pediatric vaccination regimens.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Coronavirus 229E, Human/immunology , Coronavirus OC43, Human/immunology , Cross Protection/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Adaptive Immunity/immunology , Adult , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Child , Child, Preschool , Cross Reactions/immunology , Humans
5.
J Infect ; 83(5): 573-580, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1527750

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: We assessed SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence and seroconversion in students and staff when secondary schools reopened in March 2021. METHODS: We initiated SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in 18 secondary schools across six regions in September 2020. Participants provided nasal swabs for RT-PCR and blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the beginning (September 2020) and end (December 2020) of the autumn term and at the start of the spring term (March 2021). FINDINGS: In March 2021, 1895 participants (1100 students:795 staff) were tested; 5.6% (61/1094) students and 4.4% (35/792) staff had laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from December 2020-March 2021. Nucleoprotein-antibody seroprevalence was 36.3% (370/1018) in students and 31.9% (245/769) in staff, while spike-antibody prevalence was 39.5% (402/1018) and 59.8% (459/769), respectively, similar to regional community seroprevalence. Between December 2020 and March 2021, 14.8% (97/656; 95%CI: 12.2-17.7) students and 10.0% (59/590; 95%CI: 7.7-12.7) staff seroconverted. Weekly seroconversion rates were similar from September to December 2020 (8.0/1000) and from December 2020 to March 2021 (7.9/1000; students: 9.3/1,000; staff: 6.3/1,000). INTERPRETATION: By March 2021, a third of secondary school students and staff had evidence of prior infection based on N-antibody seropositivity, and an additional third of staff had evidence of vaccine-induced immunity based on S-antibody seropositivity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Prospective Studies , Schools , Seroconversion , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Students
6.
EClinicalMedicine ; 41: 101150, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446584

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Prospective, longitudinal SARS-CoV-2 sero-surveillance in schools across England was initiated after the first national lockdown, allowing comparison of child and adult antibody responses over time. METHODS: Prospective active serological surveillance in 46 primary schools in England tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies during June, July and December 2020. Samples were tested for nucleocapsid (N) and receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies, to estimate antibody persistence at least 6 months after infection, and for the correlation of N, RBD and live virus neutralising activity. FINDINGS: In June 2020, 1,344 staff and 835 students were tested. Overall, 11.5% (95%CI: 9.4-13.9) and 11.3% (95%CI: 9.2-13.6; p = 0.88) of students had nucleoprotein and RBD antibodies, compared to 15.6% (95%CI: 13.7-17.6) and 15.3% (95%CI: 13.4-17.3; p = 0.83) of staff. Live virus neutralising activity was detected in 79.8% (n = 71/89) of nucleocapsid and 85.5% (71/83) of RBD antibody positive children. RBD antibodies correlated more strongly with neutralising antibodies (rs=0.7527; p<0.0001) than nucleocapsid antibodies (rs=0.3698; p<0.0001). A median of 24.4 weeks later, 58.2% (107/184) participants had nucleocapsid antibody seroreversion, compared to 20.9% (33/158) for RBD (p<0.001). Similar seroreversion rates were observed between staff and students for nucleocapsid (p = 0.26) and RBD-antibodies (p = 0.43). Nucleocapsid and RBD antibody quantitative results were significantly lower in staff compared to students (p = 0.028 and <0.0001 respectively) at baseline, but not at 24 weeks (p = 0.16 and p = 0.37, respectively). INTERPRETATION: The immune response in children following SARS-CoV-2 infection was robust and sustained (>6 months) but further work is required to understand the extent to which this protects against reinfection.

8.
EClinicalMedicine ; 37: 100948, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1272390

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Older children have higher SARS-CoV-2 infection rates than younger children. We investigated SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence and seroconversion rates in staff and students following the full reopening of all secondary schools in England. METHODS: Public Health England (PHE) invited secondary schools in six regions (East and West London, Hertfordshire, Derbyshire, Manchester and Birmingham) to participate in SARS-CoV-2 surveillance during the 2020/21 academic year. Participants had nasal swabs for RT-PCR and blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the beginning (September 2020) and end (December 2020) of the autumn term. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess independent risk factors for seropositivity and seroconversion. FINDINGS: Eighteen schools in six regions enrolled 2,209 participants, including 1,189 (53.8%) students and 1,020 (46.2%) staff. SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were not significantly different between students and staff in round one (5/948; [0.53%] vs. 2/876 [0.23%]; p = 0.46) or round two (10/948 [1.05%] vs. 7/886 [0.79%]; p = 0.63), and similar to national prevalence. None of four and 7/15 (47%) sequenced strains in rounds 1 and 2 were the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant. In round 1, antibody seropositivity was higher in students than staff (114/893 [12.8%] vs. 79/861 [9.2%]; p = 0.016), but similar in round 2 (117/893 [13.1%] vs.117/872 [13.3%]; p = 0.85), comparable to local community seroprevalence. Between the two rounds, 8.7% (57/652) staff and 6.6% (36/549) students seroconverted (p = 0.16). INTERPRETATION: In secondary schools, SARS-CoV-2 infection, seropositivity and seroconversion rates were similar in staff and students, and comparable to local community rates. Ongoing surveillance will be important for monitoring the impact of new variants in educational settings.

9.
Health Educ Res ; 36(3): 272-285, 2021 07 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1189451

ABSTRACT

We examined the feasibility of implementing preventive measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission across 105 English primary schools in summer 2020 via a survey and interviews with headteachers. High rates of implementation of most recommended measures were noted with the exception of requiring 2 m distance for students, fitting hand sanitizers in classrooms and introducing one-way systems in school corridors. Measures such as regular handwashing and stopping assemblies were considered easy to implement. Majorly challenging measures included distancing between individuals (for students: 51%, N = 99; for staff: 34%; N = 98; for parents: 26%, N = 100), spacing out desks (34%, N = 99), keeping same staff assigned to each student group (33%, N = 97) and staggering break times (25%, N = 99). Rapid implementation was facilitated by staff commitment and communication among stakeholders, but hampered by limitations with guidance received, physical environments, resources, parental adherence and balancing preventive measures with learning. Difficulties with distancing for younger children suggest that smaller bubbles with fewer distancing requirements within these may be a policy option. Schools require further financial, human resource and other support for effective implementation of preventive measures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Child , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools , Students , Surveys and Questionnaires
10.
Lancet Child Adolesc Health ; 5(6): 417-427, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1142360

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in educational settings. Public Health England initiated a study, COVID-19 Surveillance in School KIDs (sKIDs), in primary schools when they partially reopened from June 1, 2020, after the first national lockdown in England to estimate the incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence, and seroconversion in staff and students. METHODS: sKIDs, an active, prospective, surveillance study, included two groups: the weekly swabbing group and the blood sampling group. The swabbing group underwent weekly nasal swabs for at least 4 weeks after partial school reopening during the summer half-term (June to mid-July, 2020). The blood sampling group additionally underwent blood sampling for serum SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to measure previous infection at the beginning (June 1-19, 2020) and end (July 3-23, 2020) of the summer half-term, and, after full reopening in September, 2020, and at the end of the autumn term (Nov 23-Dec 18, 2020). We tested for predictors of SARS-CoV-2 antibody positivity using logistic regression. We calculated antibody seroconversion rates for participants who were seronegative in the first round and were tested in at least two rounds. FINDINGS: During the summer half-term, 11 966 participants (6727 students, 4628 staff, and 611 with unknown staff or student status) in 131 schools had 40 501 swabs taken. Weekly SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were 4·1 (one of 24 463; 95% CI 0·1-21·8) per 100 000 students and 12·5 (two of 16 038; 1·5-45·0) per 100 000 staff. At recruitment, in 45 schools, 91 (11·2%; 95% CI 7·9-15·1) of 816 students and 209 (15·1%; 11·9-18·9) of 1381 staff members were positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, similar to local community seroprevalence. Seropositivity was not associated with school attendance during lockdown (p=0·13 for students and p=0·20 for staff) or staff contact with students (p=0·37). At the end of the summer half-term, 603 (73·9%) of 816 students and 1015 (73·5%) of 1381 staff members were still participating in the surveillance, and five (four students, one staff member) seroconverted. By December, 2020, 55 (5·1%; 95% CI 3·8-6·5) of 1085 participants who were seronegative at recruitment (in June, 2020) had seroconverted, including 19 (5·6%; 3·4-8·6) of 340 students and 36 (4·8%; 3·4-6·6) of 745 staff members (p=0·60). INTERPRETATION: In England, SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were low in primary schools following their partial and full reopening in June and September, 2020. FUNDING: UK Department of Health and Social Care.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Schools , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Asymptomatic Infections , COVID-19/diagnosis , Child , Child, Preschool , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Prospective Studies , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Seroconversion , Seroepidemiologic Studies
11.
Lancet Digit Health ; 3(2): e78-e87, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1053906

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The early clinical course of COVID-19 can be difficult to distinguish from other illnesses driving presentation to hospital. However, viral-specific PCR testing has limited sensitivity and results can take up to 72 h for operational reasons. We aimed to develop and validate two early-detection models for COVID-19, screening for the disease among patients attending the emergency department and the subset being admitted to hospital, using routinely collected health-care data (laboratory tests, blood gas measurements, and vital signs). These data are typically available within the first hour of presentation to hospitals in high-income and middle-income countries, within the existing laboratory infrastructure. METHODS: We trained linear and non-linear machine learning classifiers to distinguish patients with COVID-19 from pre-pandemic controls, using electronic health record data for patients presenting to the emergency department and admitted across a group of four teaching hospitals in Oxfordshire, UK (Oxford University Hospitals). Data extracted included presentation blood tests, blood gas testing, vital signs, and results of PCR testing for respiratory viruses. Adult patients (>18 years) presenting to hospital before Dec 1, 2019 (before the first COVID-19 outbreak), were included in the COVID-19-negative cohort; those presenting to hospital between Dec 1, 2019, and April 19, 2020, with PCR-confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection were included in the COVID-19-positive cohort. Patients who were subsequently admitted to hospital were included in their respective COVID-19-negative or COVID-19-positive admissions cohorts. Models were calibrated to sensitivities of 70%, 80%, and 90% during training, and performance was initially assessed on a held-out test set generated by an 80:20 split stratified by patients with COVID-19 and balanced equally with pre-pandemic controls. To simulate real-world performance at different stages of an epidemic, we generated test sets with varying prevalences of COVID-19 and assessed predictive values for our models. We prospectively validated our 80% sensitivity models for all patients presenting or admitted to the Oxford University Hospitals between April 20 and May 6, 2020, comparing model predictions with PCR test results. FINDINGS: We assessed 155 689 adult patients presenting to hospital between Dec 1, 2017, and April 19, 2020. 114 957 patients were included in the COVID-negative cohort and 437 in the COVID-positive cohort, for a full study population of 115 394 patients, with 72 310 admitted to hospital. With a sensitive configuration of 80%, our emergency department (ED) model achieved 77·4% sensitivity and 95·7% specificity (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUROC] 0·939) for COVID-19 among all patients attending hospital, and the admissions model achieved 77·4% sensitivity and 94·8% specificity (AUROC 0·940) for the subset of patients admitted to hospital. Both models achieved high negative predictive values (NPV; >98·5%) across a range of prevalences (≤5%). We prospectively validated our models for all patients presenting and admitted to Oxford University Hospitals in a 2-week test period. The ED model (3326 patients) achieved 92·3% accuracy (NPV 97·6%, AUROC 0·881), and the admissions model (1715 patients) achieved 92·5% accuracy (97·7%, 0·871) in comparison with PCR results. Sensitivity analyses to account for uncertainty in negative PCR results improved apparent accuracy (ED model 95·1%, admissions model 94·1%) and NPV (ED model 99·0%, admissions model 98·5%). INTERPRETATION: Our models performed effectively as a screening test for COVID-19, excluding the illness with high-confidence by use of clinical data routinely available within 1 h of presentation to hospital. Our approach is rapidly scalable, fitting within the existing laboratory testing infrastructure and standard of care of hospitals in high-income and middle-income countries. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, University of Oxford, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.


Subject(s)
Artificial Intelligence , COVID-19 , Hematologic Tests , Mass Screening , Predictive Value of Tests , Triage , Adult , Emergency Service, Hospital , Hospitalization , Hospitals , Humans , Middle Aged , Prospective Studies
12.
Elife ; 92020 08 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-727516

ABSTRACT

We conducted voluntary Covid-19 testing programmes for symptomatic and asymptomatic staff at a UK teaching hospital using naso-/oro-pharyngeal PCR testing and immunoassays for IgG antibodies. 1128/10,034 (11.2%) staff had evidence of Covid-19 at some time. Using questionnaire data provided on potential risk-factors, staff with a confirmed household contact were at greatest risk (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 4.82 [95%CI 3.45-6.72]). Higher rates of Covid-19 were seen in staff working in Covid-19-facing areas (22.6% vs. 8.6% elsewhere) (aOR 2.47 [1.99-3.08]). Controlling for Covid-19-facing status, risks were heterogenous across the hospital, with higher rates in acute medicine (1.52 [1.07-2.16]) and sporadic outbreaks in areas with few or no Covid-19 patients. Covid-19 intensive care unit staff were relatively protected (0.44 [0.28-0.69]), likely by a bundle of PPE-related measures. Positive results were more likely in Black (1.66 [1.25-2.21]) and Asian (1.51 [1.28-1.77]) staff, independent of role or working location, and in porters and cleaners (2.06 [1.34-3.15]).


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Adolescent , Adult , Age Factors , Aged , Asymptomatic Infections/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Female , Hospitals, Teaching/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Incidence , Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional/statistics & numerical data , Intensive Care Units/statistics & numerical data , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Risk , SARS-CoV-2 , Surveys and Questionnaires , United Kingdom/epidemiology , Young Adult
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