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1.
EClinicalMedicine ; 45: 101319, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1704577

ABSTRACT

Background: The role of educational settings in SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission remains controversial. We investigated SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence, and seroconversion rates in secondary schools during the 2020/21 academic year, which included the emergence of the more transmissible alpha and delta variants, in England. Methods: The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) initiated prospective surveillance in 18 urban English secondary schools. Participants had nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and blood sampling for SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein and spike protein antibodies at the start (Round 1: September-October 2020) and end (Round 2: December 2020) of the autumn term, when schools reopened after national lockdown was imposed in January 2021 (Round 3: March-April 2021), and end of the academic year (Round 4: May-July 2021). Findings: We enrolled 2314 participants (1277 students, 1037 staff; one participant had missing data for PCR testing). In-school testing identified 31 PCR-positive participants (20 students, 11 staff). Another 247 confirmed cases (112 students, 135 staff) were identified after linkage with national surveillance data, giving an overall positivity rate of 12.0% (278/2313; staff: 14.1%, 146/1037 vs students: 10.3%, 132/1276; p = 0.006). Trends were similar to national infection data. Nucleoprotein-antibody seroprevalence increased for students and staff between Rounds 1 and 3 but were similar between Rounds 3 and 4, when the delta variant was the dominant circulating strain. Overall, Nucleoprotein-antibody seroconversion was 18.4% (137/744) in staff and 18.8% (146/778) in students, while Spike-antibody seroconversion was higher in staff (72.8%, 525/721) than students (21.3%, 163/764) because of vaccination. Interpretation: SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in secondary schools remained low when community infection rates were low, even as the delta variant was emerging in England. Funding: This study was funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

2.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0262515, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1690740

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Following the full re-opening of schools in England and emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant, we investigated the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in students and staff who were contacts of a confirmed case in a school bubble (school groupings with limited interactions), along with their household members. METHODS: Primary and secondary school bubbles were recruited into sKIDsBUBBLE after being sent home to self-isolate following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the bubble. Bubble participants and their household members were sent home-testing kits comprising nasal swabs for RT-PCR testing and whole genome sequencing, and oral fluid swabs for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. RESULTS: During November-December 2020, 14 bubbles were recruited from 7 schools, including 269 bubble contacts (248 students, 21 staff) and 823 household contacts (524 adults, 299 children). The secondary attack rate was 10.0% (6/60) in primary and 3.9% (4/102) in secondary school students, compared to 6.3% (1/16) and 0% (0/1) among staff, respectively. The incidence rate for household contacts of primary school students was 6.6% (12/183) and 3.7% (1/27) for household contacts of primary school staff. In secondary schools, this was 3.5% (11/317) and 0% (0/1), respectively. Household contacts were more likely to test positive if their bubble contact tested positive although there were new infections among household contacts of uninfected bubble contacts. INTERPRETATION: Compared to other institutional settings, the overall risk of secondary infection in school bubbles and their household contacts was low. Our findings are important for developing evidence-based infection prevention guidelines for educational settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Adolescent , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/virology , Child , Contact Tracing , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Nasopharynx/virology , Prospective Studies , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Schools/statistics & numerical data , Students/statistics & numerical data
3.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-305022

ABSTRACT

Background: The reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about widespread infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in educational settings. In June 2020, Public Health England (PHE) initiated prospective national surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in primary schools across England (sKIDs). We used this opportunity to assess the feasibility and agreeability of large-scale surveillance and testing for SARS-CoV-2 infections in school among staff, parents and students.Methods: Staff and students in 131 primary schools were asked to complete a questionnaire at recruitment and provide weekly nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing (n=86) or swabs with blood samples for antibody testing (n=45) at the beginning and end the summer half-term. In six blood sampling schools, students were asked to complete a pictorial questionnaire before and after their investigations.Results: In total, 134 children aged 4-7 years (n=40) or 8-11 years (n=95) completed the pictorial questionnaire fully or partially. Prior to sampling, oral fluid sampling was the most acceptable test (107/132, 81%) followed by throat swabs (80/134, 59%), nose swabs (77/132, 58%), and blood tests (48/130, 37%). Younger students were more nervous about all tests than older students but, after completing their tests, most children reported a “better than expected” experience with all the investigations. Students were more likely to agree to additional testing for nose swabs (93/113, 82%) and oral fluid (93/114, 82%), followed by throat swabs (85/113, 75%) and blood tests (72/108, 67%). Parents (n=3,994) and staff (n=2,580) selected a preference for weekly testing with nose swabs, throat swabs or oral fluid sampling, although staff were more flexible about testing frequency. Conclusions: Primary school staff and parents were supportive of regular tests for SARS-CoV-2 and selected a preference for weekly testing. Children preferred nose swabs and oral fluids over throat swabs or blood sampling.

4.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-319290

ABSTRACT

Background : Little is known about the views of adolescents returning to secondary school during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: In September 2020, Public Health England (PHE) recruited staff and students in secondary schools to provide nasal swabs, oral fluid and blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 infection and antibody testing. Students aged 11-18 years in five London schools completed a short questionnaire about their perception of the pandemic, returning to school, risk to themselves and to others and infection control measures, and participating in school testing. Results: A questionnaire was completed by 64% (297/462) participants. Students were generally not anxious at all (19.7%;58/294) or not really anxious (40.0%, 114/295) about returning to school, although 5.4% (n=16/295) were extremely nervous. Most students were very worried about transmitting the virus to their family (60.2%;177/294) rather than other students (22.0%;65/296) or school staff (19.3%;57/296), or catching the infection themselves (12.5%;37/296). Students better maintained physical distancing in the presence of school staff (84.6%;247/292) and in public places (79.5%;233/293) but not when with other students (46.8%;137/293) or friends (40.8%;120/294). A greater proportion of younger students (school years 7-9) reported not being anxious at all than 16-18 year olds (47/174 [27.0%] vs 3/63 [4.8%];p=0.001). They were also less likely to adhere to physical distancing and wearing face masks. Most students reported positive experiences with testing in schools, with 92.3% (262/284) agreeing to have another blood test in future visits.Conclusions: Younger students were less concerned about catching and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 and were less likely to adhere to protective measures. Greater awareness of the potential risks of COVID-19 transmission between secondary school students potentially leading to increased risk of infection in their teachers and their household members may increase adherence to infection control measures within and outside schools.

5.
Microbiol Spectr ; 10(1): e0078621, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1605388

ABSTRACT

Seroepidemiological studies to monitor antibody kinetics are important for assessing the extent and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in a population. Noninvasive sampling methods are advantageous for reducing the need for venipuncture, which may be a barrier to investigations, particularly in pediatric populations. Oral fluids are obtained by gingiva-crevicular sampling from children and adults and are very well accepted. Enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) based on these samples have acceptable sensitivity and specificity compared to conventional serum-based antibody EIAs and are suitable for population-based surveillance. We describe the development and evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 IgG EIAs using SARS-CoV-2 viral nucleoprotein (NP) and spike (S) proteins in IgG isotype capture format and an indirect receptor-binding-domain (RBD) IgG EIA, intended for use in children as a primary endpoint. All three assays were assessed using a panel of 1,999 paired serum and oral fluids from children and adults participating in school SARS-CoV-2 surveillance studies during and after the first and second pandemic wave in the United Kingdom. The anti-NP IgG capture assay was the best candidate, with an overall sensitivity of 75% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 71 to 79%) and specificity of 99% (95% CI: 78 to 99%) compared with paired serum antibodies. Sensitivity observed in children (80%, 95% CI: 71 to 88%) was higher than that in adults (67%, CI: 60% to 74%). Oral fluid assays (OF) using spike protein and RBD antigens were also 99% specific and achieved reasonable but lower sensitivity in the target population (78%, 95% CI [68% to 86%] and 53%, 95% CI [43% to 64%], respectively). IMPORTANCE We report on the first large-scale assessment of the suitability of oral fluids for detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibody obtained from healthy children attending school. The sample type (gingiva-crevicular fluid, which is a transudate of blood but is not saliva) can be self collected. Although detection of antibodies in oral fluids is less sensitive than that in blood, our study suggests an optimal format for operational use. The laboratory methods we have developed can reliably measure antibodies in children, who are able to take their own samples. Our findings are of immediate practical relevance for use in large-scale seroprevalence studies designed to measure exposure to infection, as they typically require venipuncture. Overall, our data indicate that OF assays based on the detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are a tool suitable for population-based seroepidemiology studies in children and highly acceptable in children and adults, as venipuncture is no longer necessary.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/diagnosis , Gingival Crevicular Fluid/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adolescent , Child , Child, Preschool , Humans , Immunoenzyme Techniques , Infant , Sensitivity and Specificity , Seroepidemiologic Studies
6.
Nat Immunol ; 23(1): 40-49, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585824

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 infection is generally mild or asymptomatic in children but a biological basis for this outcome is unclear. Here we compare antibody and cellular immunity in children (aged 3-11 years) and adults. Antibody responses against spike protein were high in children and seroconversion boosted responses against seasonal Beta-coronaviruses through cross-recognition of the S2 domain. Neutralization of viral variants was comparable between children and adults. Spike-specific T cell responses were more than twice as high in children and were also detected in many seronegative children, indicating pre-existing cross-reactive responses to seasonal coronaviruses. Importantly, children retained antibody and cellular responses 6 months after infection, whereas relative waning occurred in adults. Spike-specific responses were also broadly stable beyond 12 months. Therefore, children generate robust, cross-reactive and sustained immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 with focused specificity for the spike protein. These findings provide insight into the relative clinical protection that occurs in most children and might help to guide the design of pediatric vaccination regimens.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Coronavirus 229E, Human/immunology , Coronavirus OC43, Human/immunology , Cross Protection/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Adaptive Immunity/immunology , Adult , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Child , Child, Preschool , Cross Reactions/immunology , Humans
7.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-296775

ABSTRACT

ABSTRACT Background The role of educational settings on SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission remains controversial. We investigated SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence and seroconversions rates in secondary schools during the 2020/21 academic year, which included the emergence of the more transmissible Alpha and Delta variants, in England. Methods The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) initiated prospective surveillance in 18 urban English secondary schools. Participants had nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and blood sampling for SARS-CoV-2 Nucleoprotein and Spike protein antibodies at the start (Round 1: September-October 2020) and end (Round 2: December 2021) of the autumn term, when schools reopened after national lockdown was imposed in January 2021 (Round 3: March-April) and end of the academic year (Round 4: May-July). Findings We enrolled 2,314 participants (1277 students, 1037 staff). In-school testing identified 31 PCR-positive participants (20 students, 11 staff). Another 247 confirmed cases (112 students, 135 staff) were identified after linkage with national surveillance data, giving an overall positivity rate of 12.0% (278/2313;staff [14.1%, 146/1037] vs students [10.3%, 132/1276;p=0.006). Nucleoprotein-antibody seroprevalence increased for students and staff between Rounds 1-3 but changed little in Round 4, when the Delta variant was the dominant circulating strain. Overall, Nucleoprotein-antibody seroconversion was 18.4% (137/744) in staff and 18.8% (146/778) in students, while Spike-antibody seroconversion was higher in staff (72.8% (525/721) than students (21.3%, 163/764) because of vaccination. Interpretation SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in secondary schools remained low when community infection rates were low because of national lockdown, even after the emergence of the Delta variant Funding DHSC

8.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295014

ABSTRACT

Introduction SARS-CoV-2 serological studies have so far focused mainly on adults. Public Health England initiated prospective, longitudinal SARS-CoV-2 sero-surveillance in schools across England after the first national lockdown, which allowed comparison of child and adult responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection over time. Methods Staff and students had venepuncture for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in school during June, July and December 2020. Blood samples were tested for nucleocapsid (Abbott) and receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies (in-house assay), and student samples were additionally assessed for live virus neutralising activity. Results In June 2020, 1,344 staff and 835 students were tested. Overall, 11.5% (95% CI: 9.4-13.9) and 11.3% (95% CI: 9.2-13.6;p=0.88) of students had nucleoprotein and RBD antibodies, compared to 15.6% (95% CI: 13.7-17.6) and 15.3% (95% CI: 13.4-17.3;p=0.83) of staff. Live virus neutralising activity was detected in 79.8% (n=71/89) of nucleocapsid and 85.5% (71/83) of RBD antibody positive children. RBD antibodies correlated more strongly with neutralising antibodies (r s =0.7527;p<0.0001) than nucleocapsid antibodies (r s =0.3698;p<0.0001). A median of 24.4 weeks later, 58.2% (107/184) participants had nucleocapsid antibody seroreversion, compared to 20.9% (33/158) for RBD (p<0.001). Similar seroreversion rates were observed between staff and students for nucleocapsid (p=0.26) and RBD-antibodies (p=0.43). Nucleocapsid and RBD antibody quantitative results were significantly lower in staff compared to students (p=0.028 and <0.0001 respectively) at baseline, but not at 24 weeks (p=0.16 and p=0.37, respectively). Conclusion RBD antibodies correlated more strongly with live virus neutralising activity. Most seropositive students and staff retained RBD antibodies for >6 months after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

9.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-294620

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 infection is generally mild or asymptomatic in children but the biological basis for this is unclear. We studied the profile of antibody and cellular immunity in children aged 3-11 years in comparison with adults. Antibody responses against spike and receptor binding domain (RBD) were high in children and seroconversion boosted antibody responses against seasonal Beta-coronaviruses through cross-recognition of the S2 domain. Seroneutralisation assays against alpha, beta and delta SARS-CoV-2 variants demonstrated comparable neutralising activity between children and adults. T cell responses against spike were >2-fold higher in children compared to adults and displayed a T H 1 cytokine profile. SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific T cells were also detected in many seronegative children, revealing pre-existing responses that were cross-reactive with seasonal Alpha and Beta-coronaviruses. Importantly, all children retained high antibody titres and cellular responses at 6 months after infection whilst relative antibody waning was seen in adults. Spike-specific responses in children also remained broadly stable beyond 12 months. Children thus distinctly generate robust, cross-reactive and sustained immune responses after SARS-CoV-2 infection with focussed specificity against spike protein. These observations demonstrate novel features of SARS-CoV-2-specific immune responses in children and may provide insight into their relative clinical protection. Furthermore, this information will help to guide the introduction of vaccination regimens in the paediatric population.

10.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-292906

ABSTRACT

We present a comprehensive analysis of antibody and cellular responses in children aged 12-16 years who received COVID-19 vaccination with ChAdOx1 (n=6) or mRNA vaccine (mRNA-1273 or BNT162b2, n=9) using a 12-week extended-interval schedule. mRNA vaccination of seropositive children induces high antibody levels, with one dose, but a second dose is required in infection-naïve children. Following a second ChAdOx1 dose, antibody titres were higher than natural infection, but lower than mRNA vaccination. Vaccination induced live virus neutralising antibodies against Alpha, Beta and Delta variants, however, a second dose is required in infection-naïve children. We found higher T-cell responses following mRNA vaccination than ChAdOx1. Phenotyping of responses showed predominantly early effector-memory CD4 T cell populations, with a type-1 cytotoxic cytokine signature, with IL-10. These data demonstrate mRNA vaccination induces a co-ordinated superior antibody and robust cellular responses in children. Seronegative children require a prime-boost regime for optimal protection.

11.
J Infect ; 83(5): 573-580, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1527750

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: We assessed SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence and seroconversion in students and staff when secondary schools reopened in March 2021. METHODS: We initiated SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in 18 secondary schools across six regions in September 2020. Participants provided nasal swabs for RT-PCR and blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the beginning (September 2020) and end (December 2020) of the autumn term and at the start of the spring term (March 2021). FINDINGS: In March 2021, 1895 participants (1100 students:795 staff) were tested; 5.6% (61/1094) students and 4.4% (35/792) staff had laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from December 2020-March 2021. Nucleoprotein-antibody seroprevalence was 36.3% (370/1018) in students and 31.9% (245/769) in staff, while spike-antibody prevalence was 39.5% (402/1018) and 59.8% (459/769), respectively, similar to regional community seroprevalence. Between December 2020 and March 2021, 14.8% (97/656; 95%CI: 12.2-17.7) students and 10.0% (59/590; 95%CI: 7.7-12.7) staff seroconverted. Weekly seroconversion rates were similar from September to December 2020 (8.0/1000) and from December 2020 to March 2021 (7.9/1000; students: 9.3/1,000; staff: 6.3/1,000). INTERPRETATION: By March 2021, a third of secondary school students and staff had evidence of prior infection based on N-antibody seropositivity, and an additional third of staff had evidence of vaccine-induced immunity based on S-antibody seropositivity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Prospective Studies , Schools , Seroconversion , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Students
12.
EClinicalMedicine ; 41: 101150, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1446584

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Prospective, longitudinal SARS-CoV-2 sero-surveillance in schools across England was initiated after the first national lockdown, allowing comparison of child and adult antibody responses over time. METHODS: Prospective active serological surveillance in 46 primary schools in England tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies during June, July and December 2020. Samples were tested for nucleocapsid (N) and receptor binding domain (RBD) antibodies, to estimate antibody persistence at least 6 months after infection, and for the correlation of N, RBD and live virus neutralising activity. FINDINGS: In June 2020, 1,344 staff and 835 students were tested. Overall, 11.5% (95%CI: 9.4-13.9) and 11.3% (95%CI: 9.2-13.6; p = 0.88) of students had nucleoprotein and RBD antibodies, compared to 15.6% (95%CI: 13.7-17.6) and 15.3% (95%CI: 13.4-17.3; p = 0.83) of staff. Live virus neutralising activity was detected in 79.8% (n = 71/89) of nucleocapsid and 85.5% (71/83) of RBD antibody positive children. RBD antibodies correlated more strongly with neutralising antibodies (rs=0.7527; p<0.0001) than nucleocapsid antibodies (rs=0.3698; p<0.0001). A median of 24.4 weeks later, 58.2% (107/184) participants had nucleocapsid antibody seroreversion, compared to 20.9% (33/158) for RBD (p<0.001). Similar seroreversion rates were observed between staff and students for nucleocapsid (p = 0.26) and RBD-antibodies (p = 0.43). Nucleocapsid and RBD antibody quantitative results were significantly lower in staff compared to students (p = 0.028 and <0.0001 respectively) at baseline, but not at 24 weeks (p = 0.16 and p = 0.37, respectively). INTERPRETATION: The immune response in children following SARS-CoV-2 infection was robust and sustained (>6 months) but further work is required to understand the extent to which this protects against reinfection.

13.
Paediatr Child Health (Oxford) ; 31(12): 445-448, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1440286

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic led to huge changes to children's daily lives including school closures, loss of contact with family and friends, and financial difficulties which impacted on the wellbeing of all children. The Social Determinants of Health model gives us a framework to consider the impact of lockdown directly on children, and indirectly through the impact on parents, families, community and government policy as children cannot be considered in isolation to families or society. Children have suffered directly with lack of access to healthcare, and a decline in their mental health. Infant bonding may have been affected due to maternal stress, anxiety or depression, compounded by limited Health Visitor support. Poverty, food insecurity and lack of exercise contributed to increased obesity. Many children will have been exposed to domestic violence, parental mental illness and child abuse without being able to tell teachers or other adults outside of the home, these Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) increase the risk for subsequent health and behaviour problems. Children have spent many hours online for school learning and socializing with friends but faced risks of criminal exploitation and grooming. The long-term financial implications of COVID-19 will continue to impact on society for many years to come and further increase social inequalities.

15.
PLoS One ; 16(8): e0255517, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1376622

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about widespread infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in educational settings. In June 2020, Public Health England (PHE) initiated prospective national surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in primary schools across England (sKIDs). We used this opportunity to assess the feasibility and agreeability of large-scale surveillance and testing for SARS-CoV-2 infections in school among staff, parents and students. METHODS: Staff and students in 131 primary schools were asked to complete a questionnaire at recruitment and provide weekly nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing (n = 86) or swabs with blood samples for antibody testing (n = 45) at the beginning and end the summer half-term. In six blood sampling schools, students were asked to complete a pictorial questionnaire before and after their investigations. RESULTS: In total, 135 children aged 4-7 years (n = 40) or 8-11 years (n = 95) completed the pictorial questionnaire fully or partially. Prior to sampling, oral fluid sampling was the most acceptable test (107/132, 81%) followed by throat swabs (80/134, 59%), nose swabs (77/132, 58%), and blood tests (48/130, 37%). Younger students were more nervous about all tests than older students but, after completing their tests, most children reported a "better than expected" experience with all the investigations. Students were more likely to agree to additional testing for nose swabs (93/113, 82%) and oral fluid (93/114, 82%), followed by throat swabs (85/113, 75%) and blood tests (72/108, 67%). Parents (n = 3,994) and staff (n = 2,580) selected a preference for weekly testing with nose swabs, throat swabs or oral fluid sampling, although staff were more flexible about testing frequency. CONCLUSIONS: Primary school staff and parents were supportive of regular tests for SARS-CoV-2 and selected a preference for weekly testing. Children preferred nose swabs and oral fluids over throat swabs or blood sampling.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , Educational Personnel/psychology , Students/psychology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Testing/methods , Child , Child, Preschool , Cross-Sectional Studies , England , Humans , Nasopharynx/virology , Parents/psychology , Pharynx/virology , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Schools , Surveys and Questionnaires
16.
EClinicalMedicine ; 37: 100948, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1272390

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Older children have higher SARS-CoV-2 infection rates than younger children. We investigated SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence and seroconversion rates in staff and students following the full reopening of all secondary schools in England. METHODS: Public Health England (PHE) invited secondary schools in six regions (East and West London, Hertfordshire, Derbyshire, Manchester and Birmingham) to participate in SARS-CoV-2 surveillance during the 2020/21 academic year. Participants had nasal swabs for RT-PCR and blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the beginning (September 2020) and end (December 2020) of the autumn term. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess independent risk factors for seropositivity and seroconversion. FINDINGS: Eighteen schools in six regions enrolled 2,209 participants, including 1,189 (53.8%) students and 1,020 (46.2%) staff. SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were not significantly different between students and staff in round one (5/948; [0.53%] vs. 2/876 [0.23%]; p = 0.46) or round two (10/948 [1.05%] vs. 7/886 [0.79%]; p = 0.63), and similar to national prevalence. None of four and 7/15 (47%) sequenced strains in rounds 1 and 2 were the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant. In round 1, antibody seropositivity was higher in students than staff (114/893 [12.8%] vs. 79/861 [9.2%]; p = 0.016), but similar in round 2 (117/893 [13.1%] vs.117/872 [13.3%]; p = 0.85), comparable to local community seroprevalence. Between the two rounds, 8.7% (57/652) staff and 6.6% (36/549) students seroconverted (p = 0.16). INTERPRETATION: In secondary schools, SARS-CoV-2 infection, seropositivity and seroconversion rates were similar in staff and students, and comparable to local community rates. Ongoing surveillance will be important for monitoring the impact of new variants in educational settings.

17.
Health Educ Res ; 36(3): 272-285, 2021 07 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1189451

ABSTRACT

We examined the feasibility of implementing preventive measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission across 105 English primary schools in summer 2020 via a survey and interviews with headteachers. High rates of implementation of most recommended measures were noted with the exception of requiring 2 m distance for students, fitting hand sanitizers in classrooms and introducing one-way systems in school corridors. Measures such as regular handwashing and stopping assemblies were considered easy to implement. Majorly challenging measures included distancing between individuals (for students: 51%, N = 99; for staff: 34%; N = 98; for parents: 26%, N = 100), spacing out desks (34%, N = 99), keeping same staff assigned to each student group (33%, N = 97) and staggering break times (25%, N = 99). Rapid implementation was facilitated by staff commitment and communication among stakeholders, but hampered by limitations with guidance received, physical environments, resources, parental adherence and balancing preventive measures with learning. Difficulties with distancing for younger children suggest that smaller bubbles with fewer distancing requirements within these may be a policy option. Schools require further financial, human resource and other support for effective implementation of preventive measures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Child , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools , Students , Surveys and Questionnaires
18.
Lancet Child Adolesc Health ; 5(6): 417-427, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1142360

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in educational settings. Public Health England initiated a study, COVID-19 Surveillance in School KIDs (sKIDs), in primary schools when they partially reopened from June 1, 2020, after the first national lockdown in England to estimate the incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence, and seroconversion in staff and students. METHODS: sKIDs, an active, prospective, surveillance study, included two groups: the weekly swabbing group and the blood sampling group. The swabbing group underwent weekly nasal swabs for at least 4 weeks after partial school reopening during the summer half-term (June to mid-July, 2020). The blood sampling group additionally underwent blood sampling for serum SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to measure previous infection at the beginning (June 1-19, 2020) and end (July 3-23, 2020) of the summer half-term, and, after full reopening in September, 2020, and at the end of the autumn term (Nov 23-Dec 18, 2020). We tested for predictors of SARS-CoV-2 antibody positivity using logistic regression. We calculated antibody seroconversion rates for participants who were seronegative in the first round and were tested in at least two rounds. FINDINGS: During the summer half-term, 11 966 participants (6727 students, 4628 staff, and 611 with unknown staff or student status) in 131 schools had 40 501 swabs taken. Weekly SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were 4·1 (one of 24 463; 95% CI 0·1-21·8) per 100 000 students and 12·5 (two of 16 038; 1·5-45·0) per 100 000 staff. At recruitment, in 45 schools, 91 (11·2%; 95% CI 7·9-15·1) of 816 students and 209 (15·1%; 11·9-18·9) of 1381 staff members were positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, similar to local community seroprevalence. Seropositivity was not associated with school attendance during lockdown (p=0·13 for students and p=0·20 for staff) or staff contact with students (p=0·37). At the end of the summer half-term, 603 (73·9%) of 816 students and 1015 (73·5%) of 1381 staff members were still participating in the surveillance, and five (four students, one staff member) seroconverted. By December, 2020, 55 (5·1%; 95% CI 3·8-6·5) of 1085 participants who were seronegative at recruitment (in June, 2020) had seroconverted, including 19 (5·6%; 3·4-8·6) of 340 students and 36 (4·8%; 3·4-6·6) of 745 staff members (p=0·60). INTERPRETATION: In England, SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were low in primary schools following their partial and full reopening in June and September, 2020. FUNDING: UK Department of Health and Social Care.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Schools , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Asymptomatic Infections , COVID-19/diagnosis , Child , Child, Preschool , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Prospective Studies , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Seroconversion , Seroepidemiologic Studies
19.
BMJ Open ; 10(9): e042867, 2020 09 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-807755

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To determine any change in referral patterns and outcomes in children (0-18) referred for child protection medical examination (CPME) during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with previous years. DESIGN: Retrospective observational study, analysing routinely collected clinical data from CPME reports in a rapid response to the pandemic lockdown. SETTING: Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, which provides all routine CPME for Birmingham, England, population 1.1 million including 288 000 children. PARTICIPANTS: Children aged under 18 years attending CPME during an 18-week period from late February to late June during the years 2018-2020. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Numbers of referrals, source of disclosure and outcomes from CPME. RESULTS: There were 78 CPME referrals in 2018, 75 in 2019 and 47 in 2020, this was a 39.7% (95% CI 12.4% to 59.0%) reduction in referrals from 2018 to 2020, and a 37.3% (95% CI 8.6% to 57.4%) reduction from 2019 to 2020. There were fewer CPME referrals initiated by school staff in 2020, 12 (26%) compared with 36 (47%) and 38 (52%) in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In all years 75.9% of children were known to social care prior to CPME, and 94% of CPME concluded that there were significant safeguarding concerns. CONCLUSIONS: School closure due to COVID-19 may have harmed children as child abuse has remained hidden. There needs to be either mandatory attendance at schools in future or viable alternatives found. There may be a significant increase in safeguarding referrals when schools fully reopen as children disclose the abuse they have experienced at home.


Subject(s)
Child Abuse , Child Protective Services , Child Welfare , Communicable Disease Control , Coronavirus Infections , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , School Health Services/statistics & numerical data , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Child , Child Abuse/prevention & control , Child Abuse/psychology , Child Abuse/statistics & numerical data , Child Protective Services/methods , Child Protective Services/statistics & numerical data , Child Welfare/statistics & numerical data , Child Welfare/trends , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Communicable Disease Control/statistics & numerical data , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/psychology , Female , Humans , Male , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/psychology , Population , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Isolation , Social Work/methods , Social Work/statistics & numerical data , United Kingdom/epidemiology
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