BACKGROUND: The Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) is one of Europe's oldest sentinel systems, working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and its predecessor bodies for 55 years. Its surveillance report now runs twice weekly, supplemented by online observatories. In addition to conducting sentinel surveillance from a nationally representative group of practices, the RSC is now also providing data for syndromic surveillance. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to describe the cohort profile at the start of the 2021-2022 surveillance season and recent changes to our surveillance practice. METHODS: The RSC's pseudonymized primary care data, linked to hospital and other data, are held in the Oxford-RCGP Clinical Informatics Digital Hub, a Trusted Research Environment. We describe the RSC's cohort profile as of September 2021, divided into a Primary Care Sentinel Cohort (PCSC)-collecting virological and serological specimens-and a larger group of syndromic surveillance general practices (SSGPs). We report changes to our sampling strategy that brings the RSC into alignment with European Centre for Disease Control guidance and then compare our cohort's sociodemographic characteristics with Office for National Statistics data. We further describe influenza and COVID-19 vaccine coverage for the 2020-2021 season (week 40 of 2020 to week 39 of 2021), with the latter differentiated by vaccine brand. Finally, we report COVID-19-related outcomes in terms of hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and death. RESULTS: As a response to COVID-19, the RSC grew from just over 500 PCSC practices in 2019 to 1879 practices in 2021 (PCSC, n=938; SSGP, n=1203). This represents 28.6% of English general practices and 30.59% (17,299,780/56,550,136) of the population. In the reporting period, the PCSC collected >8000 virology and >23,000 serology samples. The RSC population was broadly representative of the national population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, National Health Service Region, socioeconomic status, obesity, and smoking habit. The RSC captured vaccine coverage data for influenza (n=5.4 million) and COVID-19, reporting dose one (n=11.9 million), two (n=11 million), and three (n=0.4 million) for the latter as well as brand-specific uptake data (AstraZeneca vaccine, n=11.6 million; Pfizer, n=10.8 million; and Moderna, n=0.7 million). The median (IQR) number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions was 1181 (559-1559) and 115 (50-174) per week, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The RSC is broadly representative of the national population; its PCSC is geographically representative and its SSGPs are newly supporting UKHSA syndromic surveillance efforts. The network captures vaccine coverage and has expanded from reporting primary care attendances to providing data on onward hospital outcomes and deaths. The challenge remains to increase virological and serological sampling to monitor the effectiveness and waning of all vaccines available in a timely manner.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , General Practitioners , Influenza Vaccines , Influenza, Human , Humans , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , COVID-19 Vaccines , State Medicine , Vaccination , United Kingdom/epidemiology
Background COVID-19 vaccines approved in the UK are highly effective in general population cohorts, however, data on effectiveness amongst individuals with clinical conditions that place them at increased risk of severe disease are limited. Methods We used GP electronic health record data, sentinel virology swabbing and antibody testing within a cohort of 712 general practices across England to estimate vaccine antibody response and vaccine effectiveness against medically attended COVID-19 amongst individuals in clinical risk groups using cohort and test-negative case control designs. Findings There was no reduction in S-antibody positivity in most clinical risk groups, however reduced S-antibody positivity and response was significant in the immunosuppressed group. Reduced vaccine effectiveness against clinical disease was also noted in the immunosuppressed group; after a second dose, effectiveness was moderate (Pfizer: 59.6%, 95%CI 18.0-80.1%; AstraZeneca 60.0%, 95%CI -63.6-90.2%). Interpretation In most clinical risk groups, immune response to primary vaccination was maintained and high levels of vaccine effectiveness were seen. Reduced antibody response and vaccine effectiveness were seen after 1 dose of vaccine amongst a broad immunosuppressed group, and second dose vaccine effectiveness was moderate. These findings support maximising coverage in immunosuppressed individuals and the policy of prioritisation of this group for third doses.
Subject(s)COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/prevention & control , ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 , Humans , Immunity , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccine Efficacy
OBJECTIVES: To monitor changes in seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in populations over time and between different demographic groups. METHODS: A subset of practices in the Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) sentinel network provided serum samples, collected when volunteer patients had routine blood tests. We tested these samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies using Abbott (Chicago, USA), Roche (Basel, Switzerland) and/or Euroimmun (Luebeck, Germany) assays, and linked the results to the patients' primary care computerised medical records. We report seropositivity by region and age group, and additionally examined the effects of gender, ethnicity, deprivation, rurality, shielding recommendation and smoking status. RESULTS: We estimated seropositivity from patients aged 18-100 years old, which ranged from 4.1% (95% CI 3.1-5.3%) to 8.9% (95% CI 7.8-10.2%) across the different assays and time periods. We found higher Euroimmun seropositivity in younger age groups, people of Black and Asian ethnicity (compared to white), major conurbations, and non-smokers. We did not observe any significant effect by region, gender, deprivation, or shielding recommendation. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that prior to the vaccination programme, most of the population remained unexposed to SARS-CoV-2.