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Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21256133


BackgroundIn 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. MethodsThe 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 4,433 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(R) 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. ResultsWeighted 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 2021 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. ConclusionThe 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 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.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20030502


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute respiratory tract infection that emerged in late 20191,2. Initial outbreaks in China involved 13.8% cases with severe-, and 6.1% with critical courses3. This severe presentation corresponds to the usage of a virus receptor that is expressed predominantly in the lung2,4. By causing an early onset of severe symptoms, this same receptor tropism is thought to have determined pathogenicity but also aided the control of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 20035. However, there are reports of COVID-19 cases with mild upper respiratory tract symptoms, suggesting a potential for pre- or oligosymptomatic transmission6-8. There is an urgent need for information on body site - specific virus replication, immunity, and infectivity. Here we provide a detailed virological analysis of nine cases, providing proof of active virus replication in upper respiratory tract tissues. Pharyngeal virus shedding was very high during the first week of symptoms (peak at 7.11 x 108 RNA copies per throat swab, day 4). Infectious virus was readily isolated from throat- and lung-derived samples, but not from stool samples in spite of high virus RNA concentration. Blood and urine never yielded virus. Active replication in the throat was confirmed by viral replicative RNA intermediates in throat samples. Sequence-distinct virus populations were consistently detected in throat- and lung samples of one same patient. Shedding of viral RNA from sputum outlasted the end of symptoms. Seroconversion occurred after 6-12 days, but was not followed by a rapid decline of viral loads. COVID-19 can present as a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Active virus replication in the upper respiratory tract puts prospects of COVID-19 containment in perspective.