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J Infect ; 83(6): 693-700, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446866


OBJECTIVES: Recently emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants have been associated with an increased rate of transmission within the community. We sought to determine whether this also resulted in increased transmission within hospitals. METHODS: We collected viral sequences and epidemiological data of patients with community and healthcare associated SARS-CoV-2 infections, sampled from 16th November 2020 to 10th January 2021, from nine hospitals participating in the COG-UK HOCI study. Outbreaks were identified using ward information, lineage and pairwise genetic differences between viral sequences. RESULTS: Mixed effects logistic regression analysis of 4184 sequences showed healthcare-acquired infections were no more likely to be identified as the Alpha variant than community acquired infections. Nosocomial outbreaks were investigated based on overlapping ward stay and SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence similarity. There was no significant difference in the number of patients involved in outbreaks caused by the Alpha variant compared to outbreaks caused by other lineages. CONCLUSIONS: We find no evidence to support it causing more nosocomial transmission than previous lineages. This suggests that the stringent infection prevention measures already in place in UK hospitals contained the spread of the Alpha variant as effectively as other less transmissible lineages, providing reassurance of their efficacy against emerging variants of concern.

COVID-19 , Cross Infection , Cross Infection/epidemiology , Hospitals , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , United Kingdom/epidemiology
J Infect ; 83(1): 96-103, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1198895


OBJECTIVES: Patients requiring haemodialysis are at increased risk of serious illness with SARS-CoV-2 infection. To improve the understanding of transmission risks in six Scottish renal dialysis units, we utilised the rapid whole-genome sequencing data generated by the COG-UK consortium. METHODS: We combined geographical, temporal and genomic sequence data from the community and hospital to estimate the probability of infection originating from within the dialysis unit, the hospital or the community using Bayesian statistical modelling and compared these results to the details of epidemiological investigations. RESULTS: Of 671 patients, 60 (8.9%) became infected with SARS-CoV-2, of whom 16 (27%) died. Within-unit and community transmission were both evident and an instance of transmission from the wider hospital setting was also demonstrated. CONCLUSIONS: Near-real-time SARS-CoV-2 sequencing data can facilitate tailored infection prevention and control measures, which can be targeted at reducing risk in these settings.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Bayes Theorem , Hospitals , Humans , Molecular Epidemiology , Renal Dialysis/adverse effects
Genome Res ; 31(4): 645-658, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1135943


We have developed periscope, a tool for the detection and quantification of subgenomic RNA (sgRNA) in SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequence data. The translation of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome for most open reading frames (ORFs) occurs via RNA intermediates termed "subgenomic RNAs." sgRNAs are produced through discontinuous transcription, which relies on homology between transcription regulatory sequences (TRS-B) upstream of the ORF start codons and that of the TRS-L, which is located in the 5' UTR. TRS-L is immediately preceded by a leader sequence. This leader sequence is therefore found at the 5' end of all sgRNA. We applied periscope to 1155 SARS-CoV-2 genomes from Sheffield, United Kingdom, and validated our findings using orthogonal data sets and in vitro cell systems. By using a simple local alignment to detect reads that contain the leader sequence, we were able to identify and quantify reads arising from canonical and noncanonical sgRNA. We were able to detect all canonical sgRNAs at the expected abundances, with the exception of ORF10. A number of recurrent noncanonical sgRNAs are detected. We show that the results are reproducible using technical replicates and determine the optimum number of reads for sgRNA analysis. In VeroE6 ACE2+/- cell lines, periscope can detect the changes in the kinetics of sgRNA in orthogonal sequencing data sets. Finally, variants found in genomic RNA are transmitted to sgRNAs with high fidelity in most cases. This tool can be applied to all sequenced COVID-19 samples worldwide to provide comprehensive analysis of SARS-CoV-2 sgRNA.

Genome, Viral , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sequence Analysis, RNA/methods , Animals , Base Sequence , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Limit of Detection , Vero Cells