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1.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Oct 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2087752

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Aerosol inhalation is recognized as the dominant mode of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Three highly transmissible lineages evolved during the pandemic. One hypothesis to explain increased transmissibility is that natural selection favors variants with higher rates of viral aerosol shedding. However, the extent of aerosol shedding of successive SARS-CoV-2 variants is unknown. We aimed to measure the infectivity and rate of SARS-CoV-2 shedding into exhaled breath aerosol (EBA) by individuals during the Delta and Omicron waves and compared those rates with those of prior SARS-CoV-2 variants from our previously published work. METHODS: COVID-19 cases (n = 93, 32 vaccinated and 20 boosted) were recruited to give samples, including 30-minute breath samples into a Gesundheit-II exhaled breath aerosol sampler. Samples were quantified for viral RNA using RT-PCR and cultured for virus. RESULTS: Alpha (n = 4), Delta (n = 3), and Omicron (n = 29) cases shed significantly more viral RNA copies into exhaled breath aerosols than cases infected with ancestral strains and variants not associated with increased transmissibility (n = 57). All Delta and Omicron cases were fully vaccinated and most Omicron cases were boosted. We cultured virus from the EBA of one boosted and three fully vaccinated cases. CONCLUSIONS: Alpha, Delta, and Omicron independently evolved high viral aerosol shedding phenotypes, demonstrating convergent evolution. Vaccinated and boosted cases can shed infectious SARS-CoV-2 via EBA. These findings support a dominant role of infectious aerosols in transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Monitoring aerosol shedding from new variants and emerging pathogens can be an important component of future threat assessments and guide interventions to prevent transmission.

2.
American Journal of Infection Control ; JOUR
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-2085866

ABSTRACT

Background Temporary isolation wards have been introduced to meet demands for airborne-infection-isolation-rooms (AIIRs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Environmental sampling and outbreak investigation was conducted in temporary isolation wards converted from general wards and/or prefabricated containers, in order to evaluate the ability of such temporary isolation wards to safely manage COVID-19 cases over a period of sustained use. Methods Environmental sampling for SARS-CoV-2 RNA was conducted in temporary isolation ward rooms constructed from pre-fabricated containers (N = 20) or converted from normal-pressure general wards (N = 47). Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was utilized to ascertain health care-associated transmission when clusters were reported amongst HCWs working in isolation areas from July 2020 to December 2021. Results A total of 355 environmental swabs were collected;22.4% (15/67) of patients had at least one positive environmental sample. Patients housed in temporary isolation ward rooms constructed from pre-fabricated containers (adjusted-odds-ratio, aOR = 10.46, 95% CI = 3.89-58.91, P = .008) had greater odds of detectable environmental contamination, with positive environmental samples obtained from the toilet area (60.0%, 12/20) and patient equipment, including electronic devices used for patient communication (8/20, 40.0%). A single HCW cluster was reported amongst staff working in the temporary isolation ward constructed from pre-fabricated containers;however, health care-associated transmission was deemed unlikely based on WGS and/or epidemiological investigations. Conclusion Environmental contamination with SARS-CoV-2 RNA was observed in temporary isolation wards, particularly from the toilet area and smartphones used for patient communication. However, despite intensive surveillance, no healthcare-associated transmission was detected in temporary isolation wards over 18 months of prolonged usage, demonstrating their capacity for sustained use during succeeding pandemic waves.

3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2021 Sep 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2017760

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology implicates airborne transmission; aerosol infectiousness and impacts of masks and variants on aerosol shedding are not well understood. METHODS: We recruited COVID-19 cases to give blood, saliva, mid-turbinate and fomite (phone) swabs, and 30-minute breath samples while vocalizing into a Gesundheit-II, with and without masks at up to two visits two days apart. We quantified and sequenced viral RNA, cultured virus, and assayed sera for anti-spike and anti-receptor binding domain antibodies. RESULTS: We enrolled 49 seronegative cases (mean days post onset 3.8 ±2.1), May 2020 through April 2021. We detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in 45% of fine (≤5 µm), 31% of coarse (>5 µm) aerosols, and 65% of fomite samples overall and in all samples from four alpha-variant cases. Masks reduced viral RNA by 48% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3 to 72%) in fine and by 77% (95% CI, 51 to 89%) in coarse aerosols; cloth and surgical masks were not significantly different. The alpha variant was associated with a 43-fold (95% CI, 6.6 to 280-fold) increase in fine aerosol viral RNA, compared with earlier viruses, that remained a significant 18-fold (95% CI, 3.4 to 92-fold) increase adjusting for viral RNA in saliva, swabs, and other potential confounders. Two fine aerosol samples, collected while participants wore masks, were culture-positive. CONCLUSION: SARS-CoV-2 is evolving toward more efficient aerosol generation and loose-fitting masks provide significant but only modest source control. Therefore, until vaccination rates are very high, continued layered controls and tight-fitting masks and respirators will be necessary.

4.
Singapore Med J ; 63(2): 61-67, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1811330

ABSTRACT

The complete picture regarding transmission modes of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is unknown. This review summarises the available evidence on its transmission modes, our preliminary research findings and implications for infection control policy, and outlines future research directions. Environmental contamination has been reported in hospital settings occupied by infected patients, and is higher in the first week of illness. Transmission via environmental surfaces or fomites is likely, but decontamination protocols are effective in minimising this risk. The extent of airborne transmission is also unclear. While several studies have detected SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid in air samples, none has isolated viable virus in culture. Transmission likely lies on a spectrum between droplet and airborne transmission, depending on the patient, disease and environmental factors. Singapore's current personal protective equipment and isolation protocols are sufficient to manage this risk.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Hospitals , Humans , Infection Control/methods , Personal Protective Equipment
5.
Clin Infect Dis ; 74(10): 1722-1728, 2022 05 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1707710

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Multiple severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) superspreading events suggest that aerosols play an important role in driving the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To better understand how airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs, we sought to determine viral loads within coarse (>5 µm) and fine (≤5 µm) respiratory aerosols produced when breathing, talking, and singing. METHODS: Using a G-II exhaled breath collector, we measured viral RNA in coarse and fine respiratory aerosols emitted by COVID-19 patients during 30 minutes of breathing, 15 minutes of talking, and 15 minutes of singing. RESULTS: Thirteen participants (59%) emitted detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory aerosols, including 3 asymptomatic and 1 presymptomatic patient. Viral loads ranged from 63-5821 N gene copies per expiratory activity per participant, with high person-to-person variation. Patients earlier in illness were more likely to emit detectable RNA. Two participants, sampled on day 3 of illness, accounted for 52% of total viral load. Overall, 94% of SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies were emitted by talking and singing. Interestingly, 7 participants emitted more virus from talking than singing. Overall, fine aerosols constituted 85% of the viral load detected in our study. Virus cultures were negative. CONCLUSIONS: Fine aerosols produced by talking and singing contain more SARS-CoV-2 copies than coarse aerosols and may play a significant role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Exposure to fine aerosols, especially indoors, should be mitigated. Isolating viable SARS-CoV-2 from respiratory aerosol samples remains challenging; whether this can be more easily accomplished for emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is an urgent enquiry necessitating larger-scale studies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Singing , Aerosols , Humans , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Load
6.
One Health ; 13: 100274, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1251441

ABSTRACT

We examined a collection of 386 animal, 451 human, and 109 archived bioaerosol samples with a new pan-species coronavirus molecular assay. Thirty-eight (4.02%) of 946 specimens yielded evidence of human or animal coronaviruses. Our findings demonstrate the utility of employing the pan-CoV RT-PCR assay in detecting varied coronavirus among human, animal, and environmental specimens. This RT-PCR assay might be employed as a screening diagnostic for early detection of coronaviruses incursions or prepandemic coronavirus emergence in animal or human populations.

7.
J Infect Dis ; 222(11): 1798-1806, 2020 11 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-951703

ABSTRACT

During April and May 2020, we studied 20 patients hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), their hospital rooms (fomites and aerosols), and their close contacts for molecular and culture evidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Among >400 samples, we found molecular evidence of virus in most sample types, especially the nasopharyngeal (NP), saliva, and fecal samples, but the prevalence of molecular positivity among fomites and aerosols was low. The agreement between NP swab and saliva positivity was high (89.5%; κ = 0.79). Two NP swabs collected from patients on days 1 and 7 post-symptom onset had evidence of infectious virus (2 passages over 14 days in Vero E6 cells). In summary, the low molecular prevalence and lack of viable SARS-CoV-2 virus in fomites and air samples implied low nosocomial risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission through inanimate objects or aerosols.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Fomites/virology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Adult , Aerosols , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Animals , COVID-19/epidemiology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Environmental Microbiology , Feces/virology , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Nasopharynx/virology , Saliva/virology , Vero Cells , Viral Load
8.
J Clin Virol ; 128: 104391, 2020 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-252517

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: During the past two decades, three novel coronaviruses (CoVs) have emerged to cause international human epidemics with severe morbidity. CoVs have also emerged to cause severe epidemics in animals. A better understanding of the natural hosts and genetic diversity of CoVs are needed to help mitigate these threats. OBJECTIVE: To design and evaluate a molecular diagnostic tool for detection and identification of all currently recognized and potentially future emergent CoVs from the Orthocoronavirinae subfamily. STUDY DESIGN AND RESULTS: We designed a semi-nested, reverse transcription RT-PCR assay based upon 38 published genome sequences of human and animal CoVs. We evaluated this assay with 14 human and animal CoVs and 11 other non-CoV respiratory viruses. Through sequencing the assay's target amplicon, the assay correctly identified each of the CoVs; no cross-reactivity with 11 common respiratory viruses was observed. The limits of detection ranged from 4 to 4 × 102 copies/reaction, depending on the CoV species tested. To assess the assay's clinical performance, we tested a large panel of previously studied specimens: 192 human respiratory specimens from pneumonia patients, 5 clinical specimens from COVID-19 patients, 81 poultry oral secretion specimens, 109 pig slurry specimens, and 31 aerosol samples from a live bird market. The amplicons of all RT-PCR-positive samples were confirmed by Sanger sequencing. Our assay performed well with all tested specimens across all sample types. CONCLUSIONS: This assay can be used for detection and identification of all previously recognized CoVs, including SARS-CoV-2, and potentially any emergent CoVs in the Orthocoronavirinae subfamily.


Subject(s)
Bird Diseases/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Swine Diseases/diagnosis , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , Bird Diseases/virology , Birds , COVID-19 , Coronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Genetic Variation , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS Virus/genetics , SARS Virus/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2 , Swine , Swine Diseases/virology
9.
PLoS One ; 15(5): e0233117, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-244945

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) is a major cause of death and morbidity in low- and middle-income countries, however, the etiologic agents are often undetermined due to the lack of molecular diagnostics in hospitals and clinics. To examine evidence for select viral infections among patients with SARI in northern Vietnam, we studied 348 nasopharyngeal samples from military and civilian patients admitted to 4 hospitals in the greater Hanoi area from 2017-2019. Initial screening for human respiratory viral pathogens was performed in Hanoi, Vietnam at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) or the Military Institute of Preventative Medicine (MIPM), and an aliquot was shipped to Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore for validation. Patient demographics were recorded and used to epidemiologically describe the infections. Among military and civilian cases of SARI, 184 (52.9%) tested positive for one or more respiratory viruses. Influenza A virus was the most prevalent virus detected (64.7%), followed by influenza B virus (29.3%), enterovirus (3.8%), adenovirus (1.1%), and coronavirus (1.1%). Risk factor analyses demonstrated an increased risk of influenza A virus detection among military hospital patients (adjusted OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.2-3.2), and an increased risk of influenza B virus detection among patients enrolled in year 2017 (adjusted OR, 7.9; 95% CI, 2.7-22.9). As influenza A and B viruses were commonly associated with SARI and are treatable, SARI patients entering these hospitals would benefit if the hospitals were able to adapt onsite molecular diagnostics.


Subject(s)
Pneumonia/epidemiology , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/epidemiology , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/virology , Adolescent , Adult , Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Enterovirus/isolation & purification , Female , Humans , Influenza A virus/isolation & purification , Influenza B virus/isolation & purification , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Influenza, Human/virology , Male , Middle Aged , Military Facilities/statistics & numerical data , Pneumonia/virology , Vietnam/epidemiology , Young Adult
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