Fast surveillance strategies are needed to control the spread of new emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants and gain time for evaluation of their pathogenic potential. This was essential for the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) that replaced the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) and is currently the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant circulating worldwide. RT-qPCR strategies complement whole genome sequencing, especially in resource lean countries, but mutations in the targeting primer and probe sequences of new emerging variants can lead to a failure of the existing RT-qPCRs. Here, we introduced an RT-qPCR platform for detecting the Delta- and the Omicron variant simultaneously using a degenerate probe targeting the key ΔH69/V70 mutation in the spike protein. By inclusion of the L452R mutation into the RT-qPCR platform, we could detect not only the Delta and the Omicron variants, but also the Omicron sub-lineages BA.1, BA.2 and BA.4/BA.5. The RT-qPCR platform was validated in small- and large-scale. It can easily be incorporated for continued monitoring of Omicron sub-lineages, and offers a fast adaption strategy of existing RT-qPCRs to detect new emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants using degenerate probes.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/genetics , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
In late 2021, the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant overtook the previously dominant Delta variant, but the extent to which this transition was driven by immune evasion or a change in the inherent transmissibility is currently unclear. We estimate SARS-CoV-2 transmission within Danish households during December 2021. Among 26,675 households (8,568 with the Omicron VOC), we identified 14,140 secondary infections within a 1-7-day follow-up period. The secondary attack rate was 29% and 21% in households infected with Omicron and Delta, respectively. For Omicron, the odds of infection were 1.10 (95%-CI: 1.00-1.21) times higher for unvaccinated, 2.38 (95%-CI: 2.23-2.54) times higher for fully vaccinated and 3.20 (95%-CI: 2.67-3.83) times higher for booster-vaccinated contacts compared to Delta. We conclude that the transition from Delta to Omicron VOC was primarily driven by immune evasiveness and to a lesser extent an inherent increase in the basic transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Denmark/epidemiology , Family Characteristics , Humans
Effective vaccines protect individuals by not only reducing the susceptibility to infection, but also reducing the infectiousness of breakthrough infections in vaccinated cases. To disentangle the vaccine effectiveness against susceptibility to infection (VES) and vaccine effectiveness against infectiousness (VEI), we took advantage of Danish national data comprising 24,693 households with a primary case of SARS-CoV-2 infection (Delta Variant of Concern, 2021) including 53,584 household contacts. In this setting, we estimated VES as 61% (95%-CI: 59-63), when the primary case was unvaccinated, and VEI as 31% (95%-CI: 26-36), when the household contact was unvaccinated. Furthermore, unvaccinated secondary cases with an infection exhibited a three-fold higher viral load compared to fully vaccinated secondary cases with a breakthrough infection. Our results demonstrate that vaccinations reduce susceptibility to infection as well as infectiousness, which should be considered by policy makers when seeking to understand the public health impact of vaccination against transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Subject(s)COVID-19 , Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
By 9 December 2021, 785 SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant cases have been identified in Denmark. Most cases were fully (76%) or booster-vaccinated (7.1%); 34 (4.3%) had a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. The majority of cases with available information reported symptoms (509/666; 76%) and most were infected in Denmark (588/644; 91%). One in five cases cannot be linked to previous cases, indicating widespread community transmission. Nine cases have been hospitalised, one required intensive care and no deaths have been registered.