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1.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3618, 2022 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908176

ABSTRACT

Monitoring population protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for risk assessment. We hypothesize that Hong Kong's explosive Omicron BA.2 outbreak in early 2022 could be explained by low herd immunity. Our seroprevalence study using sera collected from January to December 2021 shows a very low prevalence of neutralizing antibodies (NAb) against ancestral virus among older adults. The age group-specific prevalence of NAb generally correlates with the vaccination uptake rate, but older adults have a much lower NAb seropositive rate than vaccination uptake rate. For all age groups, the seroprevalence of NAb against Omicron variant is much lower than that against the ancestral virus. Our study suggests that this BA.2 outbreak and the exceptionally high case-fatality rate in the ≥80 year-old age group (9.2%) could be attributed to the lack of protective immunity in the population, especially among the vulnerable older adults, and that ongoing sero-surveillance is essential.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Humans , Seroepidemiologic Studies
2.
Build Environ ; 221: 109323, 2022 Aug 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1906829

ABSTRACT

The phenomenon of vertical transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs) is unique in our densely populated cosmopolitan city. The compulsory testing of a whole building under the scheme of restriction-testing declaration (RTD) during the fourth wave (non-Omicron variant) and fifth wave (mostly Omicron variant) of COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong allowed us to study the prevalence of this phenomenon, which may represent a form of airborne transmission. From 23 January 2021 to 24 March 2022, 25,450 (5.8%) of 436,397 residents from 223 (63.0%) of 354 HRRBs under RTD were test-positive for SARS-CoV-2. Using the clustering of cases among vertically aligned flats with shared drainage stack and lightwell as a surrogate marker of vertical transmission, the number of vertically aligned flats with positive COVID-19 cases was significantly higher in the fifth wave compared with the fourth wave (14.2%, 6471/45,531 vs 0.24%, 3/1272; p < 0.001; or 2212 vs 1 per-million-flats; p < 0.001). Excluding 22,801 residents from 38 HRRBs who were tested negative outside the 12-week periods selected in fourth and fifth waves, the positive rate among residents was significantly higher among residents during the fifth wave than the fourth wave (6.5%, 25,434/389,700 vs 0.07%, 16/23,896; p < 0.001). Within the flats with COVID-19 cases, the proportion of vertically aligned flats was also significantly higher in the fifth wave than in the fourth wave (95.6%, 6471/6766 vs 30.0%, 3/10, p < 0.001). The proportion of HRRBs with COVID-19 cases was significantly higher during the corresponding 12-week period chosen for comparison (78.2%, 219/280 vs 11.1%, 4/36; p < 0.001). Whole-genome phylogenetic analysis of 332 viral genomes showed that Omicron BA.2 was the predominant strain, supporting the high transmissibility of BA.2 by airborne excreta-aerosol route in HRRBs of Hong Kong.

3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Mar 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1886378

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant BA.2 sublineage has increased rapidly in Europe and Asia since January 2022. Here, we report the epidemiological and genomic analysis of a large single source BA.2 outbreak in a housing estate. METHODS: We analyzed the epidemiological information of a community outbreak of BA.2 (STY outbreak). We performed whole viral genome sequencing using the Oxford Nanopore MinION device. We calculated the doubling time of the outbreak within a housing estate. RESULTS: The STY outbreak involved a total of 768 individuals as of 5 th February 2022, including 432 residents, visitors or staff (56.3%) from a single housing estate (KC Estate). The outbreak at the KC Estate has a short doubling time of 1.28 days (95% confidence interval: 0.560-1.935). The outbreak was promptly controlled with the lockdown of 3 buildings within the housing estate. Whole genome sequencing was performed for 133 patients in the STY outbreak, including 106 residents of the KC Estate. All 133 sequences from the STY outbreak belonged to the BA.2 sublineage, and phylogenetic analysis showed that these sequences cluster together. All individuals in the STY cluster had the unique mutation C12525T. CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights the exceptionally high transmissibility of the Omicron variant BA.2 sublineage in Hong Kong where stringent measures are implemented as part of the elimination strategy. Continual genomic surveillance is crucial in monitoring the emergence of epidemiologically important Omicron sub-variants.

4.
Antibiotics (Basel) ; 11(6)2022 May 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1869451

ABSTRACT

Nonpharmaceutical interventions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021) have provided a unique opportunity to understand their impact on the wholesale supply of antibiotics and incidences of infections represented by bacteremia due to common bacterial species in Hong Kong. The wholesale antibiotic supply data (surrogate indicator of antibiotic consumption) and notifications of scarlet fever, chickenpox, and tuberculosis collected by the Centre for Health Protection, and the data of blood cultures of patients admitted to public hospitals in Hong Kong collected by the Hospital Authority for the last 10 years, were tabulated and analyzed. A reduction in the wholesale supply of antibiotics was observed. This decrease coincided with a significant reduction in the incidence of community-onset bacteremia due to Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria meningitidis, which are encapsulated bacteria with respiratory transmission potential. This reduction was sustained during two pandemic years (period 2: 2020-2021), compared with eight pre-pandemic years (period 1: 2012-2019). Although the mean number of patient admissions per year (1,704,079 vs. 1,702,484, p = 0.985) and blood culture requests per 1000 patient admissions (149.0 vs. 158.3, p = 0.132) were not significantly different between periods 1 and 2, a significant reduction in community-onset bacteremia due to encapsulated bacteria was observed in terms of the mean number of episodes per year (257 vs. 58, p < 0.001), episodes per 100,000 admissions (15.1 vs. 3.4, p < 0.001), and per 10,000 blood culture requests (10.1 vs. 2.1, p < 0.001), out of 17,037,598 episodes of patient admissions with 2,570,164 blood culture requests. Consistent with the findings of bacteremia, a reduction in case notification of scarlet fever and airborne infections, including tuberculosis and chickenpox, was also observed; however, there was no reduction in the incidence of hospital-onset bacteremia due to Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli. Sustained implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions against respiratory microbes may reduce the overall consumption of antibiotics, which may have a consequential impact on antimicrobial resistance. Rebound of conventional respiratory microbial infections is likely with the relaxation of these interventions.

5.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2021 Dec 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1852987

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, designated as a Variant of Concern(VOC) by the World Health Organization, carries numerous spike mutations which have are known to evade neutralizing antibodies elicited by COVID-19 vaccines. A deeper understanding of the susceptibility of Omicron variant to vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies is urgently needed for risk assessment. METHODS: Omicron variant strains HKU691 and HKU344-R346K were isolated from patients using TMPRSS2-overexpressing VeroE6 cells. Whole genome sequence was determined using nanopore sequencing. Neutralization susceptibility of ancestral lineage A virus and the Omicron, Delta and Beta variants to sera from 25 BNT162b2 and 25 Coronavac vaccine recipients was determined using a live virus microneutralization assay. RESULTS: The Omicron variant strain HKU344-R346K has an additional spike R346K mutation, which is present in 8.5% of strains deposited in GISAID database. Only 20% and 24% of BNT162b2 recipients had detectable neutralizing antibody against the Omicron variant HKU691 and HKU344-R346K, respectively, while none of the Coronavac recipients had detectable neutralizing antibody titer against either Omicron isolate. For BNT162b2 recipients, the geometric mean neutralization antibody titers(GMT) of the Omicron variant isolates(5.43 and 6.42) were 35.7-39.9-fold lower than that of the ancestral virus(229.4), and the GMT of both Omicron variant isolates were significantly lower than those of the Beta and Delta variants. There was no significant difference in the GMT between HKU691 and HKU344-R346K. CONCLUSIONS: Omicron variant escapes neutralizing antibodies elicited by BNT162b2 or Coronavac. The additional R346K mutation did not affect the neutralization susceptibility. Our data suggest that the Omicron variant may be associated with lower COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness.

6.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-332139

ABSTRACT

Monitoring population protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for risk assessment. In this serosurveillance study, older adults show much lower seropositive rates of neutralizing antibody (NAb) against ancestral virus than the younger population. The increase in NAb seopositive rate generally follows the population vaccination uptake rate, but older adults have a much lower NAb seropositive rate than vaccination uptake rate. For all age groups, the seropositive rates of NAb against Omicron variant are much lower than those against the ancestral virus. During the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong which is dominated by Omicron sublineage BA.2, the case-fatality rate is exceptionally high in the ≥80 year-old age group (9.2%). Our study suggests that the severe BA.2 outbreak in Hong Kong can be attributed by the lack of protective immunity in the population, especially among the vulnerable older adults, and highlights the importance of continual surveillance of protective immunity against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

8.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol ; 43(3): 334-343, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1189150

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Nosocomial outbreaks leading to healthcare worker (HCW) infection and death have been increasingly reported during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. OBJECTIVE: We implemented a strategy to reduce nosocomial acquisition. METHODS: We summarized our experience in implementing a multipronged infection control strategy in the first 300 days (December 31, 2019, to October 25, 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic under the governance of Hospital Authority in Hong Kong. RESULTS: Of 5,296 COVID-19 patients, 4,808 (90.8%) were diagnosed in the first pandemic wave (142 cases), second wave (896 cases), and third wave (3,770 cases) in Hong Kong. With the exception of 1 patient who died before admission, all COVID-19 patients were admitted to the public healthcare system for a total of 78,834 COVID-19 patient days. The median length of stay was 13 days (range, 1-128). Of 81,955 HCWs, 38 HCWs (0.05%; 2 doctors and 11 nurses and 25 nonprofessional staff) acquired COVID-19. With the exception of 5 of 38 HCWs (13.2%) infected by HCW-to-HCW transmission in the nonclinical settings, no HCW had documented transmission from COVID-19 patients in the hospitals. The incidence of COVID-19 among HCWs was significantly lower than that of our general population (0.46 per 1,000 HCWs vs 0.71 per 1,000 population; P = .008). The incidence of COVID-19 among professional staff was significantly lower than that of nonprofessional staff (0.30 vs 0.66 per 1,000 full-time equivalent; P = .022). CONCLUSIONS: A hospital-based approach spared our healthcare service from being overloaded. With our multipronged infection control strategy, no nosocomial COVID-19 in was identified among HCWs in the first 300 days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Cross Infection , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cross Infection/epidemiology , Cross Infection/prevention & control , Health Personnel , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Hospitals , Humans , Infection Control , Pandemics/prevention & control
9.
J Infect ; 81(1): 107-114, 2020 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-108681

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Face mask usage by the healthy population in the community to reduce risk of transmission of respiratory viruses remains controversial. We assessed the effect of community-wide mask usage to control coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). METHODS: Patients presenting with respiratory symptoms at outpatient clinics or hospital wards were screened for COVID-19 per protocol. Epidemiological analysis was performed for confirmed cases, especially persons acquiring COVID-19 during mask-off and mask-on settings. The incidence of COVID-19 per million population in HKSAR with community-wide masking was compared to that of non-mask-wearing countries which are comparable with HKSAR in terms of population density, healthcare system, BCG vaccination and social distancing measures but not community-wide masking. Compliance of face mask usage in the HKSAR community was monitored. FINDINGS: Within first 100 days (31 December 2019 to 8 April 2020), 961 COVID-19 patients were diagnosed in HKSAR. The COVID-19 incidence in HKSAR (129.0 per million population) was significantly lower (p<0.001) than that of Spain (2983.2), Italy (2250.8), Germany (1241.5), France (1151.6), U.S. (1102.8), U.K. (831.5), Singapore (259.8), and South Korea (200.5). The compliance of face mask usage by HKSAR general public was 96.6% (range: 95.7% to 97.2%). We observed 11 COVID-19 clusters in recreational 'mask-off' settings compared to only 3 in workplace 'mask-on' settings (p = 0.036 by Chi square test of goodness-of-fit). CONCLUSION: Community-wide mask wearing may contribute to the control of COVID-19 by reducing the amount of emission of infected saliva and respiratory droplets from individuals with subclinical or mild COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Protective Clothing , Public Health , COVID-19 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
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