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Vaccines (Basel) ; 11(2)2023 Feb 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2239601


Background: University workers undergo intense social interactions due to frequent contact with students and colleagues and lectures in crowdy conditions. The aim of our study was to assess the incidence of COVID-19 infection and vaccine effectiveness in a cohort of workers of the University of Trieste from 1 March 2020 (start of the pandemic) through 2 April 2022. Methods: The University of Trieste implemented a number of public health policies to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 on the campus, including prompt contact tracing, enhanced ventilation of all premises, fomites disinfection and mandatory use of face masks indoors. In compliance with the surveillance protocol of the local public health department, university personnel were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on a nasopharyngeal swab on demand, in the event of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or for contact tracing, following close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. The incidence rates of SARS-CoV-2 infections were estimated as number of cases by number of person-days (p-d) at risk. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression model was employed to investigate the risk of primary COVID-19 infection, controlling for a number of potential confounders and expressing the risk as the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) with a 95% confidence interval (95% CI). Results: The incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection among university staff was lower than that of healthcare workers (HCWs) of the same area. Compared to unvaccinated colleagues (6.55 × 10,000 p-d), the raw incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher among university workers immunized with one (7.22 × 10,000 p-d) or two (7.48 × 10,000 p-d) doses of COVID-19 vaccines, decreasing in those receiving the booster (1.98 × 1000 p-d). The risk of infection increased only in postgraduate medical trainees (aHR = 2.16; 95% CI: 1.04; 4.48), though this was limited to the Omicron transmission period. After the implementation of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, workers immunized with the booster were less likely than unvaccinated workers to be infected by SARS-CoV-2 both before (aHR = 0.10; 95% CI: 0.06; 0.16) and after (aHR = 0.37; 95% CI: 0.27; 0.52) the Omicron transmission period. Vaccine effectiveness of the booster was 90% (=(1-0.10) × 100) before versus 63% (=(1-0.37) × 100) during the Omicron wave, without a significant difference between homologous (three doses of m-RNA vaccines) and heterologous immunization (first two doses of Vaxzevria followed by a third dose of m-RNA vaccine). Conclusions: The incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in university staff was lower than that of HCWs of ASUGI, likely because the testing-on-demand schedule inevitably missed the vast majority of asymptomatic infections. Therefore, the observed significantly protective effect of the booster dose in university personnel referred to symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. The infection prevention and control policies implemented by the University of Trieste managed to equalize the biological risk between administrative and teaching staff.

Life (Basel) ; 13(1)2022 Dec 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2244885


Background: A proportion of patients' ailments may last after recovering from acute COVID-19, with episodic and systemic symptoms of unclear etiology potentially involving different organs. Study aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the persistence of symptoms 15 months since COVID-19 diagnosis in patients referring to the post-COVID-19 clinic in Trieste (north-eastern Italy). Methods: Two-hundred-forty-seven patients were medically examined between 8 December 2020-6 April 2021, after a median time of 49 days since first positive swab test for SARS-CoV-2. After a median time of 15 months since COVID-19 diagnosis, the same patients were contacted over the phone and investigated by standardized questionnaire collecting information on any persisting symptoms and work ability index (WAI). Four multivariable logistic regression models were fitted to investigate factors associated with persistence of any respiratory, neurological, dysautonomic, or psychiatric symptoms at first (median time 49 days since COVID-19 diagnosis) as well as second (median 15 months since COVID-19 diagnosis) follow up. A multiple linear regression was also employed to investigate factors associated with higher mean WAI, assessed only at second follow up. Additionally, factors associated with persistence of symptoms 200+ days since COVID-19 diagnosis between first and second follow-up were investigated by multivariable Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE). Results: At first follow up (median time of 49 days since COVID-19 diagnosis) symptoms more frequently reported were fatigue (80.2%), shortness of breath (69.6%), concentration deficit (44.9%), headache (44.9%), myalgia (44.1%), arthralgia (43.3%), and anosmia (42.1%). At second follow-up (median time of 15 months since COVID-19 diagnosis) 75% patients returned to their baseline status preceding COVID-19. At first follow up males were less likely to experience neurological (OR = 0.16; 95% CI: 0.08; 0.35) as well as psychiatric (OR = 0.43; 95% CI: 0.23; 0.80) symptoms as compared to females. At first follow up, the risk of neurological symptoms increased also linearly with age (OR = 1.04; 95% CI: 1.01; 1.08) and pre-existing depression was a major risk factor for persisting dysautonomic (aOR = 6.35; 95% CI: 2.01; 20.11) as well as psychiatric symptoms (omitted estimate). Consistently, at second follow up only females experience psychiatric symptoms, whereas males exhibited significantly higher mean WAI (RC = 0.50; 95% CI: 0.11; 0.88). Additionally, neurological symptoms at second follow up were more likely in patients with pre-existing comorbidities (OR = 4.31; 95% CI: 1.27; 14.7). Finally, persistence of symptoms lasting 200+ days since COVID-19 diagnosis increased linearly with age (OR = 1.03; 95% CI 1.01-1.05) and were more likely in patients affected by pre-existing depression (OR = 2.68; 95% CI 1.60; 4.49). Conclusions: Following a median time of 15 months since first positive swab test, 75% patients with symptoms returned to their baseline health status preceding COVID-19. Females had a significantly lower WAI and were more likely to experience psychiatric symptoms at second follow up (15 months since COVID-19 diagnosis). Furthermore, the risk of symptoms persisting 200+ days since COVID-19 diagnosis increased with history of depression, endorsing the hypothesis that long-COVID-19 symptoms may be at least partially explained by pre-existing psychological conditions. Patient rehabilitation and psychological support may therefore play a key role in caring patients with the so called long COVID-19 syndrome.

Viruses ; 14(12)2022 11 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2143726


Objective: To evaluate the incidence of primary and recurrent COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers (HCWs) routinely screened for SARS-CoV-2 by nasopharyngeal swabs during the Omicron wave. Design: Dynamic Cohort study of HCWs (N = 7723) of the University Health Agency Giuliano Isontina (ASUGI), covering health services of the provinces of Trieste and Gorizia (Northeast Italy). Cox proportional hazard model was employed to estimate the risk of primary as well as recurrent SARS-CoV-2 infection from 1 December 2021 through 31 May 2022, adjusting for a number of confounding factors. Results: By 1 December 2021, 46.8% HCWs of ASUGI had received the booster, 37.2% were immunized only with two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, 6.0% only with one dose and 10.0% were unvaccinated. During 1 March 2020-31 May 2022, 3571 primary against 406 SARS-CoV-2 recurrent infections were counted among HCWs of ASUGI, 59.7% (=2130/3571) versus 95.1% (=386/406) of which occurring from 1 December 2021 through 31 May 2022, respectively. All HCWs infected by SARS-CoV-2 during 1 December 2021 through 31 May 2022 presented mild flu-like disease. Compared to staff working in administrative services, the risk of primary as well as recurrent SARS-CoV-2 infection increased in HCWs with patient-facing clinical tasks (especially nurses and other categories of HCWs) and in all clinical wards but COVID-19 units and community health services. Regardless of the number of swab tests performed during the study period, primary infections were less likely in HCWs immunized with one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. By contrast, the risk of SARS-CoV-2 re-infection was significantly lower in HCWs immunized with three doses (aHR = 0.58; 95%CI: 0.41; 0.80). During the study period, vaccine effectiveness (VE = 1-aHR) of the booster dose declined to 42% against re-infections, vanishing against primary SARS-CoV-2 infections. Conclusions: Though generally mild, SARS-CoV-2 infections and re-infections surged during the Omicron transmission period. Compared to unvaccinated colleagues, the risk of primary SARS-CoV-2 infection was significantly lower in HCWs immunized just with one dose of COVID-19 vaccines. By Italian law, HCWs immunized only with one dose were either suspended or re-assigned to job tasks not entailing patient facing contact; hence, while sharing the same biological risk of unvaccinated colleagues, they arguably had a higher level of protection against COVID-19 infection. By contrast, SARS-CoV-2 re-infections were less likely in HCWs vaccinated with three doses, suggesting that hybrid humoral immunity by vaccination combined with natural infection provided a higher level of protection than vaccination only. In this stage of the pandemic, where SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious yet much less pathogenic, health protection measures in healthcare premises at higher biological risk seem the rational approach to control the transmission of the virus.

COVID-19 , Humans , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Reinfection/epidemiology , Reinfection/prevention & control , Vaccine Efficacy , SARS-CoV-2 , Cohort Studies , Health Personnel , Italy/epidemiology