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1.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Aug 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1973125

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We explore SARS-CoV-2 antibody lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) performance under field conditions compared to laboratory-based electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA) and live virus neutralisation. METHODS: In July 2021, 3758 participants performed, at home, a self-administered Fortress LFIA on finger-prick blood, reported and submitted a photograph of the result, and provided a self-collected capillary blood sample for assessment of IgG antibodies using the Roche Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 ECLIA. We compared the self-reported LFIA result to the quantitative ECLIA and checked the reading of the LFIA result with an automated image analysis (ALFA). In a subsample of 250 participants, we compared the results to live virus neutralisation. RESULTS: Almost all participants (3593/3758, 95.6%) had been vaccinated or reported prior infection. Overall, 2777/3758 (73.9%) were positive on self-reported LFIA, 2811/3457 (81.3%) positive by LFIA when ALFA-reported, and 3622/3758 (96.4%) positive on ECLIA (using the manufacturer reference standard threshold for positivity of 0.8 U ml-1). Live virus neutralisation was detected in 169 of 250 randomly selected samples (67.6%); 133/169 were positive with self-reported LFIA (sensitivity 78.7%; 95% CI 71.8, 84.6), 142/155 (91.6%; 86.1, 95.5) with ALFA, and 169 (100%; 97.8, 100.0) with ECLIA. There were 81 samples with no detectable virus neutralisation; 47/81 were negative with self-reported LFIA (specificity 58.0%; 95% CI 46.5, 68.9), 34/75 (45.3%; 33.8, 57.3) with ALFA, and 0/81 (0%; 0.0, 4.5) with ECLIA. CONCLUSIONS: Self-administered LFIA is less sensitive than a quantitative antibody test, but the positivity in LFIA correlates better than the quantitative ECLIA with virus neutralisation.

2.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 4500, 2022 Aug 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1972602

ABSTRACT

Rapid transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has led to record-breaking case incidence rates around the world. Since May 2020, the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study tracked the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection in England through RT-PCR of self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly-selected participants aged 5 years and over. In January 2022, we found an overall weighted prevalence of 4.41% (n = 102,174), three-fold higher than in November to December 2021; we sequenced 2,374 (99.2%) Omicron infections (19 BA.2), and only 19 (0.79%) Delta, with a growth rate advantage for BA.2 compared to BA.1 or BA.1.1. Prevalence was decreasing overall (reproduction number R = 0.95, 95% credible interval [CrI], 0.93, 0.97), but increasing in children aged 5 to 17 years (R = 1.13, 95% CrI, 1.09, 1.18). In England during January 2022, we observed unprecedented levels of SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially among children, driven by almost complete replacement of Delta by Omicron.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Base Sequence , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , England/epidemiology , Humans , Specimen Handling
3.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 21: 100462, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1966923

ABSTRACT

Background: The Omicron wave of COVID-19 in England peaked in January 2022 resulting from the rapid transmission of the Omicron BA.1 variant. We investigate the spread and dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in the population of England during February 2022, by region, age and main SARS-CoV-2 sub-lineage. Methods: In the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study we obtained data from a random sample of 94,950 participants with valid throat and nose swab results by RT-PCR during round 18 (8 February to 1 March 2022). Findings: We estimated a weighted mean SARS-CoV-2 prevalence of 2.88% (95% credible interval [CrI] 2.76-3.00), with a within-round effective reproduction number (R) overall of 0.94 (0·91-0.96). While within-round weighted prevalence fell among children (aged 5 to 17 years) and adults aged 18 to 54 years, we observed a level or increasing weighted prevalence among those aged 55 years and older with an R of 1.04 (1.00-1.09). Among 1,616 positive samples with sublineages determined, one (0.1% [0.0-0.3]) corresponded to XE BA.1/BA.2 recombinant and the remainder were Omicron: N=1047, 64.8% (62.4-67.2) were BA.1; N=568, 35.2% (32.8-37.6) were BA.2. We estimated an R additive advantage for BA.2 (vs BA.1) of 0.38 (0.34-0.41). The highest proportion of BA.2 among positives was found in London. Interpretation: In February 2022, infection prevalence in England remained high with level or increasing rates of infection in older people and an uptick in hospitalisations. Ongoing surveillance of both survey and hospitalisations data is required. Funding: Department of Health and Social Care, England.

4.
BMC Infect Dis ; 22(1): 647, 2022 Jul 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1962762

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, evolutionary pressure has driven large increases in the transmissibility of the virus. However, with increasing levels of immunity through vaccination and natural infection the evolutionary pressure will switch towards immune escape. Genomic surveillance in regions of high immunity is crucial in detecting emerging variants that can more successfully navigate the immune landscape. METHODS: We present phylogenetic relationships and lineage dynamics within England (a country with high levels of immunity), as inferred from a random community sample of individuals who provided a self-administered throat and nose swab for rt-PCR testing as part of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study. During round 14 (9 September-27 September 2021) and 15 (19 October-5 November 2021) lineages were determined for 1322 positive individuals, with 27.1% of those which reported their symptom status reporting no symptoms in the previous month. RESULTS: We identified 44 unique lineages, all of which were Delta or Delta sub-lineages, and found a reduction in their mutation rate over the study period. The proportion of the Delta sub-lineage AY.4.2 was increasing, with a reproduction number 15% (95% CI 8-23%) greater than the most prevalent lineage, AY.4. Further, AY.4.2 was less associated with the most predictive COVID-19 symptoms (p = 0.029) and had a reduced mutation rate (p = 0.050). Both AY.4.2 and AY.4 were found to be geographically clustered in September but this was no longer the case by late October/early November, with only the lineage AY.6 exhibiting clustering towards the South of England. CONCLUSIONS: As SARS-CoV-2 moves towards endemicity and new variants emerge, genomic data obtained from random community samples can augment routine surveillance data without the potential biases introduced due to higher sampling rates of symptomatic individuals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , England/epidemiology , Humans , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
5.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 4375, 2022 Jul 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1960372

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been characterised by the regular emergence of genomic variants. With natural and vaccine-induced population immunity at high levels, evolutionary pressure favours variants better able to evade SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies. The Omicron variant (first detected in November 2021) exhibited a high degree of immune evasion, leading to increased infection rates worldwide. However, estimates of the magnitude of this Omicron wave have often relied on routine testing data, which are prone to several biases. Using data from the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study, a series of cross-sectional surveys assessing prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in England, we estimated the dynamics of England's Omicron wave (from 9 September 2021 to 1 March 2022). We estimate an initial peak in national Omicron prevalence of 6.89% (5.34%, 10.61%) during January 2022, followed by a resurgence in SARS-CoV-2 infections as the more transmissible Omicron sub-lineage, BA.2 replaced BA.1 and BA.1.1. Assuming the emergence of further distinct variants, intermittent epidemics of similar magnitudes may become the 'new normal'.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Epidemics , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
6.
Commun Med (Lond) ; 2: 78, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1927106

ABSTRACT

Background: Lateral flow immunoassays (LFIAs) are being used worldwide for COVID-19 mass testing and antibody prevalence studies. Relatively simple to use and low cost, these tests can be self-administered at home, but rely on subjective interpretation of a test line by eye, risking false positives and false negatives. Here, we report on the development of ALFA (Automated Lateral Flow Analysis) to improve reported sensitivity and specificity. Methods: Our computational pipeline uses machine learning, computer vision techniques and signal processing algorithms to analyse images of the Fortress LFIA SARS-CoV-2 antibody self-test, and subsequently classify results as invalid, IgG negative and IgG positive. A large image library of 595,339 participant-submitted test photographs was created as part of the REACT-2 community SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence study in England, UK. Alongside ALFA, we developed an analysis toolkit which could also detect device blood leakage issues. Results: Automated analysis showed substantial agreement with human experts (Cohen's kappa 0.90-0.97) and performed consistently better than study participants, particularly for weak positive IgG results. Specificity (98.7-99.4%) and sensitivity (90.1-97.1%) were high compared with visual interpretation by human experts (ranges due to the varying prevalence of weak positive IgG tests in datasets). Conclusions: Given the potential for LFIAs to be used at scale in the COVID-19 response (for both antibody and antigen testing), even a small improvement in the accuracy of the algorithms could impact the lives of millions of people by reducing the risk of false-positive and false-negative result read-outs by members of the public. Our findings support the use of machine learning-enabled automated reading of at-home antibody lateral flow tests as a tool for improved accuracy for population-level community surveillance.

7.
Epidemics ; 40: 100604, 2022 Jun 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1905565

ABSTRACT

The time-varying reproduction number (Rt) can change rapidly over the course of a pandemic due to changing restrictions, behaviours, and levels of population immunity. Many methods exist that allow the estimation of Rt from case data. However, these are not easily adapted to point prevalence data nor can they infer Rt across periods of missing data. We developed a Bayesian P-spline model suitable for fitting to a wide range of epidemic time-series, including point-prevalence data. We demonstrate the utility of the model by fitting to periodic daily SARS-CoV-2 swab-positivity data in England from the first 7 rounds (May 2020-December 2020) of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study. Estimates of Rt over the period of two subsequent rounds (6-8 weeks) and single rounds (2-3 weeks) inferred using the Bayesian P-spline model were broadly consistent with estimates from a simple exponential model, with overlapping credible intervals. However, there were sometimes substantial differences in point estimates. The Bayesian P-spline model was further able to infer changes in Rt over shorter periods tracking a temporary increase above one during late-May 2020, a gradual increase in Rt over the summer of 2020 as restrictions were eased, and a reduction in Rt during England's second national lockdown followed by an increase as the Alpha variant surged. The model is robust against both under-fitting and over-fitting and is able to interpolate between periods of available data; it is a particularly versatile model when growth rate can change over small timescales, as in the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This work highlights the importance of pairing robust methods with representative samples to track pandemics.

8.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-338378

ABSTRACT

Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibody lateral flow immunoassays (LFIA) can be carried out in the home and have been used as an affordable and practical approach to large-scale antibody prevalence studies. However, assay performance differs from that of high-throughput laboratory-based assays which can be highly sensitive. We explore LFIA performance under field conditions compared to laboratory-based ELISA and assess the potential of LFIAs to identify people who lack functional antibodies following infection or vaccination. Methods: Field evaluation of a self-administered LFIA test (Fortress, NI) among 3758 participants from the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-2 (REACT-2) study in England selected based on vaccination history and previous LFIA result to ensure a range of antibody titres. In July 2021, participants performed, at home, a self-administered LFIA on finger-prick blood, reported and submitted a photograph of the result, and provided a self-collected capillary blood sample (Tasso-SST) for serological assessment of IgG antibodies to the spike protein using the Roche Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assay. We compared the self-administered and reported LFIA result to the quantitative Roche assay and checked the reading of the LFIA result with an automated image analysis (ALFA). In a subsample of 250 participants, we compared the results to live virus neutralisation. Results: Almost all participants (3593/3758, 95.6%) had been vaccinated or reported prior infection, with most having received one (862, 22.9%) or two (2430, 64.7%) COVID-19 vaccine doses. Overall, 2777/3758 (73.9%) were positive on self-reported LFIA, 2811/3457 (81.3%) positive by LFIA when ALFA-reported, and 3622/3758 (96.4%) positive on Roche anti-S (using the manufacturer reference standard threshold for positivity of 0.8 U ml-1). Live virus neutralisation was detected in 169 of 250 randomly selected samples (67.6%);133/169 were positive with self-reported LFIA (sensitivity 78.7%;95% CI 71.8, 84.6), 142/155 (91.6%;86.1, 95.5) with ALFA, and 169 (100%;97.8, 100.0) with Roche anti-S. There were 81 samples with no detectable virus neutralisation;47/81 were negative with self-reported LFIA (specificity 58.0%;95% CI 46.5, 68.9), 34/75 (45.3%;33.8, 57.3) with ALFA, and 0/81 (0%;0.0, 4.5) with Roche anti-S. All 250 samples remained positive with Roche anti-S when the threshold was increased to 1000U ml-1. Conclusions: Self-administered LFIA can provide insights into population patterns of infection and vaccine response, and sensitivity can be improved with automated reading of the result. The LFIA is less sensitive than a quantitative antibody test, but the positivity in LFIA correlates better than the quantitative ELISA with virus neutralisation.

9.
Wellcome open research ; 6, 2021.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1876835

ABSTRACT

Background: Lateral flow immunoassays (LFIAs) are able to achieve affordable, large scale antibody testing and provide rapid results without the support of central laboratories. As part of the development of the REACT programme extensive evaluation of LFIA performance was undertaken with individuals following natural infection. Here we assess the performance of the selected LFIA to detect antibody responses in individuals who have received at least one dose of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine. Methods: This was a prospective diagnostic accuracy study. Sampling was carried out at renal outpatient clinic and healthcare worker testing sites at Imperial College London NHS Trust. Two cohorts of patients were recruited;the first was a cohort of 108 renal transplant patients attending clinic following two doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, the second cohort comprised 40 healthcare workers attending for first SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and subsequent follow up. During the participants visit, finger-prick blood samples were analysed on LFIA device, while paired venous sampling was sent for serological assessment of antibodies to the spike protein (anti-S) antibodies. Anti-S IgG was detected using the Abbott Architect SARS-CoV-2 IgG Quant II CMIA. A total of 186 paired samples were collected. The accuracy of Fortress LFIA in detecting IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 compared to anti-spike protein detection on Abbott Assay Results: The LFIA had an estimated sensitivity of 92.0% (114/124;95% confidence interval [CI] 85.7% to 96.1%) and specificity of 93.6% (58/62;95% CI 84.3% to 98.2%) using the Abbott assay as reference standard (using the threshold for positivity of 7.10 BAU/ml) Conclusions: Fortress LFIA performs well in the detection of antibody responses for intended purpose of population level surveillance but does not meet criteria for individual testing.

10.
Science ; 376(6600): eabq4411, 2022 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1861571

ABSTRACT

Rapid transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant has led to record-breaking incidence rates around the world. The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has tracked SARS-CoV-2 infection in England using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results from self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly selected participants aged 5 years and older approximately monthly from May 2020 to March 2022. Weighted prevalence in March 2022 was the highest recorded in REACT-1 at 6.37% (N = 109,181), with the Omicron BA.2 variant largely replacing the BA.1 variant. Prevalence was increasing overall, with the greatest increase in those aged 65 to 74 years and 75 years and older. This was associated with increased hospitalizations and deaths, but at much lower levels than in previous waves against a backdrop of high levels of vaccination.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Epidemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , England/epidemiology , Humans , Incidence , Prevalence , RNA, Viral/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
11.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-337090

ABSTRACT

Background: Lateral flow immunoassays (LFIAs) are able to achieve affordable, large scale antibody testing and provide rapid results without the support of central laboratories. As part of the development of the REACT programme extensive evaluation of LFIA performance was undertaken with individuals following natural infection. Here we assess the performance of the selected LFIA to detect antibody responses in individuals who have received at least one dose of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine. Methods: : This was a prospective diagnostic accuracy study. Sampling was carried out at renal outpatient clinic and healthcare worker testing sites at Imperial College London NHS Trust. Two cohorts of patients were recruited;the first was a cohort of 108 renal transplant patients attending clinic following two doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, the second cohort comprised 40 healthcare workers attending for first SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and subsequent follow up. During the participants visit, finger-prick blood samples were analysed on LFIA device, while paired venous sampling was sent for serological assessment of antibodies to the spike protein (anti-S) antibodies. Anti-S IgG was detected using the Abbott Architect SARS-CoV-2 IgG Quant II CMIA. A total of 186 paired samples were collected. The accuracy of Fortress LFIA in detecting IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 compared to anti-spike protein detection on Abbott Assay Results: : The LFIA had an estimated sensitivity of 92.0% (114/124;95% confidence interval [CI] 85.7% to 96.1%) and specificity of 93.6% (58/62;95% CI 84.3% to 98.2%) using the Abbott assay as reference standard (using the threshold for positivity of 7.10 BAU/ml) Conclusions: : Fortress LFIA performs well in the detection of antibody responses for intended purpose of population level surveillance but does not meet criteria for individual testing.

12.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-337038

ABSTRACT

Infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus is associated with a wide range of symptoms. The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission -1 (REACT-1) study has been monitoring the spread and clinical manifestation of SARS-CoV-2 among random samples of the population in England from 1 May 2020 to 31 March 2022. We show changing symptom profiles associated with the different variants over that period, with lower reporting of loss of sense of smell and taste for Omicron compared to previous variants, and higher reporting of cold-like and influenza-like symptoms, controlling for vaccination status. Contrary to the perception that recent variants have become successively milder, Omicron BA.2 was associated with reporting more symptoms, with greater disruption to daily activities, than BA.1. With restrictions lifted and routine testing limited in many countries, monitoring the changing symptom profiles associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and induced changes in daily activities will become increasingly important.

13.
EClinicalMedicine ; 48: 101419, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1821213

ABSTRACT

Background: Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection with Delta variant was increasing in England in late summer 2021 among children aged 5 to 17 years, and adults who had received two vaccine doses. In September 2021, a third (booster) dose was offered to vaccinated adults aged 50 years and over, vulnerable adults and healthcare/care-home workers, and a single vaccine dose already offered to 16 and 17 year-olds was extended to children aged 12 to 15 years. Methods: SARS-CoV-2 community prevalence in England was available from self-administered throat and nose swabs using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in round 13 (24 June to 12 July 2021, N = 98,233), round 14 (9 to 27 September 2021, N = 100,527) and round 15 (19 October to 5 November 2021, N = 100,112) from the REACT-1 study randomised community surveys. Linking to National Health Service (NHS) vaccination data for consenting participants, we estimated vaccine effectiveness in children aged 12 to 17 years and compared swab-positivity rates in adults who received a third dose with those who received two doses. Findings: Weighted SARS-CoV-2 prevalence was 1.57% (1.48%, 1.66%) in round 15 compared with 0.83% (0.76%, 0.89%) in round 14, and the previously observed link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths had weakened. Vaccine effectiveness against infection in children aged 12 to 17 years was estimated (round 15) at 64.0% (50.9%, 70.6%) and 67.7% (53.8%, 77.5%) for symptomatic infections. Adults who received a third vaccine dose were less likely to test positive compared to those who received two doses, with adjusted OR of 0.36 (0.25, 0.53). Interpretation: Vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 years and third (booster) doses in adults were effective at reducing infection risk. High rates of vaccination, including booster doses, are a key part of the strategy to reduce infection rates in the community. Funding: Department of Health and Social Care, England.

14.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1957, 2022 04 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1788285

ABSTRACT

Long COVID remains a broadly defined syndrome, with estimates of prevalence and duration varying widely. We use data from rounds 3-5 of the REACT-2 study (n = 508,707; September 2020 - February 2021), a representative community survey of adults in England, and replication data from round 6 (n = 97,717; May 2021) to estimate the prevalence and identify predictors of persistent symptoms lasting 12 weeks or more; and unsupervised learning to cluster individuals by reported symptoms. At 12 weeks in rounds 3-5, 37.7% experienced at least one symptom, falling to 21.6% in round 6. Female sex, increasing age, obesity, smoking, vaping, hospitalisation with COVID-19, deprivation, and being a healthcare worker are associated with higher probability of persistent symptoms in rounds 3-5, and Asian ethnicity with lower probability. Clustering analysis identifies a subset of participants with predominantly respiratory symptoms. Managing the long-term sequelae of COVID-19 will remain a major challenge for affected individuals and their families and for health services.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adult , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/epidemiology , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
15.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-332203

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been characterised by the regular emergence of genomic variants which have led to substantial changes in the epidemiology of the virus. With natural and vaccine-induced population immunity at high levels, evolutionary pressure favours variants better able to evade SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies. The Omicron variant was first detected in late November 2021 and exhibited a high degree of immune evasion, leading to increased infection rates in many countries. However, estimates of the magnitude of the Omicron wave have relied mainly on routine testing data, which are prone to several biases. Here we infer the dynamics of the Omicron wave in England using PCR testing and genomic sequencing obtained by the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study, a series of cross-sectional surveys testing random samples of the population of England. We estimate an initial peak in national Omicron prevalence of 6.89% (5.34%, 10.61%) during January 2022, followed by a resurgence in SARS-CoV-2 infections in England during February-March 2022 as the more transmissible Omicron sub-lineage, BA.2 replaced BA.1 and BA.1.1. Assuming the emergence of further distinct genomic variants, intermittent epidemics of similar magnitude as the Omicron wave may become the 'new normal'.

16.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-330815

ABSTRACT

Background: The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has provided unbiased estimates of swab-positivity in England approximately monthly since May 2020 using RT-PCR testing of self-administered throat and nose swabs. However, estimating infection incidence requires an understanding of the persistence of RT-PCR swab-positivity in the community. Methods: : During round 8 of REACT-1 from 6 January to 22 January 2021, we collected up to two additional swabs from 896 initially RT-PCR positive individuals approximately 6 and 9 days after their initial swab. Results: : Test sensitivity and duration of positivity were estimated using an exponential decay model, for all participants and for subsets by initial N-gene cycle threshold (Ct) value, symptom status, lineage and age. A P-spline model was used to estimate infection incidence for the entire duration of the REACT-1 study. REACT-1 test sensitivity was estimated at 0.79 (0.77, 0.81) with median duration of positivity at 9.7 (8.9, 10.6) days. We found greater duration of positivity in those exhibiting symptoms, with low N-gene Ct values, or infected with the Alpha variant. Test sensitivity was found to be higher for those who were pre-symptomatic or with low N-gene Ct values. Compared to swab-positivity, our estimates of infection incidence included sharper features with evident transient increases around the time of changes in social distancing measures. Conclusions: : These results validate previous efforts to estimate incidence of SARS-CoV-2 from swab-positivity data and provide a reliable means to obtain community infection estimates to inform policy response.

17.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-330095

ABSTRACT

Background: The third wave of COVID-19 in England peaked in January 2022 resulting from the rapid transmission of the Omicron variant. However, rates of hospitalisations and deaths were substantially lower than in the first and second waves Methods: In the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study we obtained data from a random sample of 94,950 participants with valid throat and nose swab results by RT-PCR during round 18 (8 February to 1 March 2022). Findings: We estimated a weighted mean SARS-CoV-2 prevalence of 2.88% (95% credible interval [CrI] 2.76-3.00), with a within-round reproduction number (R) overall of 0.94 (0.91-0.96). While within-round weighted prevalence fell among children (aged 5 to 17 years) and adults aged 18 to 54 years, we observed a level or increasing weighted prevalence among those aged 55 years and older with an R of 1.04 (1.00-1.09). Among 1,195 positive samples with sublineages determined, only one (0.1% [0.0-0.5]) corresponded to AY.39 Delta sublineage and the remainder were Omicron: N=390, 32.7% (30.0-35.4) were BA.1;N=473, 39.6% (36.8-42.5) were BA.1.1;and N=331, 27.7% (25.2-30.4) were BA.2. We estimated an R additive advantage for BA.2 (vs BA.1 or BA.1.1) of 0.40 (0.36-0.43). The highest proportion of BA.2 among positives was found in London. Interpretation: In February 2022, infection prevalence in England remained high with level or increasing rates of infection in older people and an uptick in hospitalisations. Ongoing surveillance of both survey and hospitalisations data is required. Funding: Department of Health and Social Care, England.

18.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 907, 2022 02 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1692613

ABSTRACT

Population antibody surveillance helps track immune responses to COVID-19 vaccinations at scale, and identify host factors that may affect antibody production. We analyse data from 212,102 vaccinated individuals within the REACT-2 programme in England, which uses self-administered lateral flow antibody tests in sequential cross-sectional community samples; 71,923 (33.9%) received at least one dose of BNT162b2 vaccine and 139,067 (65.6%) received ChAdOx1. For both vaccines, antibody positivity peaks 4-5 weeks after first dose and then declines. At least 21 days after second dose of BNT162b2, close to 100% of respondents test positive, while for ChAdOx1, this is significantly reduced, particularly in the oldest age groups (72.7% [70.9-74.4] at ages 75 years and above). For both vaccines, antibody positivity decreases with age, and is higher in females and those with previous infection. Antibody positivity is lower in transplant recipients, obese individuals, smokers and those with specific comorbidities. These groups will benefit from additional vaccine doses.


Subject(s)
Aging/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , /immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Age Factors , Aged , Antibody Formation/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cross-Sectional Studies , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Immunization Programs , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Male , Middle Aged , Prospective Studies , Sex Factors , Vaccination
19.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327435

ABSTRACT

The time-varying reproduction number ( R t ) can change rapidly over the course of a pandemic due to changing restrictions, behaviours, and levels of population immunity. Many methods exist that allow the estimation of R t from case data. However, these are not easily adapted to point prevalence data nor can they infer R t across periods of missing data. We developed a Bayesian P-spline model suitable for fitting to a wide range of epidemic time-series, including point-prevalence data. We demonstrate the utility of the model by fitting to periodic daily SARS-CoV-2 swab-positivity data in England from the first 7 rounds (May 2020 – December 2020) of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study. Estimates of R t over the period of two subsequent rounds (6-8 weeks) and single rounds (2-3 weeks) inferred using the Bayesian P-spline model were broadly consistent with estimates from a simple exponential model, with overlapping credible intervals. However, there were sometimes substantial differences in point estimates. The Bayesian P-spline model was further able to infer changes in R t over shorter periods tracking a temporary increase above one during late-May 2020, a gradual increase in R t over the summer of 2020 as restrictions were eased, and a reduction in R t during England’ s second national lockdown followed by an increase as the Alpha variant surged. The model is robust against both under-fitting and over-fitting and is able to interpolate between periods of available data;it is a particularly versatile model when growth rate can change over small timescales, as in the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This work highlights the importance of pairing robust methods with representative samples to track pandemics.

20.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327404

ABSTRACT

Background Rapid transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has led to the highest ever recorded case incidence levels in many countries around the world. Methods The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has been characterising the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus using RT-PCR test results from self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly-selected participants in England at ages 5 years and over, approximately monthly since May 2020. Round 17 data were collected between 5 and 20 January 2022 and provide data on the temporal, socio-demographic and geographical spread of the virus, viral loads and viral genome sequence data for positive swabs. Results From 102,174 valid tests in round 17, weighted prevalence of swab positivity was 4.41% (95% credible interval [CrI], 4.25% to 4.56%), which is over three-fold higher than in December 2021 in England. Of 3,028 sequenced positive swabs, 2,393 lineages were determined and 2,374 (99.2%) were Omicron including 19 (0.80% of all Omicron lineages) cases of BA.2 sub-lineage and one BA.3 (0.04% of all Omicron) detected on 17 January 2022, and only 19 (0.79%) were Delta. The growth of the BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage against BA.1 and its sub-lineage BA.1.1 indicated a daily growth rate advantage of 0.14 (95% CrI, 0.03, 0.28) for BA.2, which corresponds to an additive R advantage of 0.46 (95% CrI, 0.10, 0.92). Within round 17, prevalence was decreasing overall (R=0.95, 95% CrI, 0.93, 0.97) but increasing in children aged 5 to 17 years (R=1.13, 95% CrI, 1.09, 1.18). Those 75 years and older had a swab-positivity prevalence of 2.46% (95% CI, 2.16%, 2.80%) reflecting a high level of infection among a highly vulnerable group. Among the 3,613 swab-positive individuals reporting whether or not they had had previous infection, 2,334 (64.6%) reported previous confirmed COVID-19. Of these, 64.4% reported a positive test from 1 to 30 days before their swab date. Risks of infection were increased among essential/key workers (other than healthcare or care home workers) with mutually adjusted Odds Ratio (OR) of 1.15 (95% CI, 1.05, 1.26), people living in large compared to single-person households (6+ household size OR 1.73;95% CI, 1.44, 2.08), those living in urban vs rural areas (OR 1.24, 95% CI, 1.13, 1.35) and those living in the most vs least deprived areas (OR 1.34, 95% CI, 1.20, 1.49). Conclusions We observed unprecedented levels of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in England in January 2022, an almost complete replacement of Delta by Omicron, and evidence for a growth advantage for BA.2 compared to BA.1. The increase in the prevalence of infection with Omicron among children (aged 5 to 17 years) during January 2022 could pose a risk to adults, despite the current trend for prevalence in adults to decline. (Funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in England.)

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