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1.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-296241

ABSTRACT

The evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continuously produces new variants, which warrant timely epidemiological characterisation. Here we use the dense genomic surveillance generated by the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium to reconstruct the dynamics of 71 different lineages in each of 315 English local authorities between September 2020 and June 2021. This analysis reveals a series of sub-epidemics that peaked in the early autumn of 2020, followed by a jump in transmissibility of the B.1.1.7/Alpha lineage. Alpha grew when other lineages declined during the second national lockdown and regionally tiered restrictions between November and December 2020. A third more stringent national lockdown suppressed Alpha and eliminated nearly all other lineages in early 2021. However, a series of variants (mostly containing the spike E484K mutation) defied these trends and persisted at moderately increasing proportions. Accounting for sustained introductions, however, indicates that their transmissibility is unlikely to have exceeded that of Alpha. Finally, B.1.617.2/Delta was repeatedly introduced to England and grew rapidly in the early summer of 2021, constituting approximately 98% of sampled SARS-CoV-2 genomes on June 26.

2.
Nature ; 2021 Oct 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1467111

ABSTRACT

The evolution of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus leads to new variants that warrant timely epidemiological characterization. Here we use the dense genomic surveillance data generated by the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium to reconstruct the dynamics of 71 different lineages in each of 315 English local authorities between September 2020 and June 2021. This analysis reveals a series of subepidemics that peaked in early autumn 2020, followed by a jump in transmissibility of the B.1.1.7/Alpha lineage. The Alpha variant grew when other lineages declined during the second national lockdown and regionally tiered restrictions between November and December 2020. A third more stringent national lockdown suppressed the Alpha variant and eliminated nearly all other lineages in early 2021. Yet a series of variants (most of which contained the spike E484K mutation) defied these trends and persisted at moderately increasing proportions. However, by accounting for sustained introductions, we found that the transmissibility of these variants is unlikely to have exceeded the transmissibility of the Alpha variant. Finally, B.1.617.2/Delta was repeatedly introduced in England and grew rapidly in early summer 2021, constituting approximately 98% of sampled SARS-CoV-2 genomes on 26 June 2021.

3.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 5412, 2021 09 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1406390

ABSTRACT

Emerging evidence suggests that contact tracing has had limited success in the UK in reducing the R number across the COVID-19 pandemic. We investigate potential pitfalls and areas for improvement by extending an existing branching process contact tracing model, adding diagnostic testing and refining parameter estimates. Our results demonstrate that reporting and adherence are the most important predictors of programme impact but tracing coverage and speed plus diagnostic sensitivity also play an important role. We conclude that well-implemented contact tracing could bring small but potentially important benefits to controlling and preventing outbreaks, providing up to a 15% reduction in R. We reaffirm that contact tracing is not currently appropriate as the sole control measure.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , Contact Tracing/methods , Pandemics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2 , Sensitivity and Specificity , United Kingdom/epidemiology
5.
Eur J Epidemiol ; 36(7): 749-752, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1338256

ABSTRACT

Widespread, repeated testing using rapid antigen tests to proactively detect asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections has been a promising yet controversial topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns have been raised over whether currently authorized lateral flow tests are sufficiently sensitive and specific to detect enough infections to impact transmission whilst minimizing unnecessary isolation of false positives. These concerns have often been illustrated using simple, textbook calculations of positivity rates and positive predictive value assuming fixed values for sensitivity, specificity and prevalence. However, we argue that evaluating repeated testing strategies requires the consideration of three additional factors: new infections continue to arise depending on the incidence rate, isolating positive individuals reduces prevalence in the tested population, and each infected individual is tested multiple times during their infection course. We provide a simple mathematical model with an online interface to illustrate how these three factors impact test positivity rates and the number of isolating individuals over time. These results highlight the potential pitfalls of using inappropriate textbook-style calculations to evaluate statistics arising from repeated testing strategies during an epidemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing/statistics & numerical data , Adolescent , Child , England , Female , Humans , Male , Models, Statistical , Pandemics , Predictive Value of Tests , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools , Sensitivity and Specificity
6.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200283, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309699

ABSTRACT

The time-varying reproduction number (Rt: the average number of secondary infections caused by each infected person) may be used to assess changes in transmission potential during an epidemic. While new infections are not usually observed directly, they can be estimated from data. However, data may be delayed and potentially biased. We investigated the sensitivity of Rt estimates to different data sources representing COVID-19 in England, and we explored how this sensitivity could track epidemic dynamics in population sub-groups. We sourced public data on test-positive cases, hospital admissions and deaths with confirmed COVID-19 in seven regions of England over March through August 2020. We estimated Rt using a model that mapped unobserved infections to each data source. We then compared differences in Rt with the demographic and social context of surveillance data over time. Our estimates of transmission potential varied for each data source, with the relative inconsistency of estimates varying across regions and over time. Rt estimates based on hospital admissions and deaths were more spatio-temporally synchronous than when compared to estimates from all test positives. We found these differences may be linked to biased representations of subpopulations in each data source. These included spatially clustered testing, and where outbreaks in hospitals, care homes, and young age groups reflected the link between age and severity of the disease. We highlight that policy makers could better target interventions by considering the source populations of Rt estimates. Further work should clarify the best way to combine and interpret Rt estimates from different data sources based on the desired use. This article is part of the theme issue 'Modelling that shaped the early COVID-19 pandemic response in the UK'.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Pandemics , Bias , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , England/epidemiology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
7.
BMC Med ; 19(1): 106, 2021 04 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1204075

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Routine asymptomatic testing using RT-PCR of people who interact with vulnerable populations, such as medical staff in hospitals or care workers in care homes, has been employed to help prevent outbreaks among vulnerable populations. Although the peak sensitivity of RT-PCR can be high, the probability of detecting an infection will vary throughout the course of an infection. The effectiveness of routine asymptomatic testing will therefore depend on testing frequency and how PCR detection varies over time. METHODS: We fitted a Bayesian statistical model to a dataset of twice weekly PCR tests of UK healthcare workers performed by self-administered nasopharyngeal swab, regardless of symptoms. We jointly estimated times of infection and the probability of a positive PCR test over time following infection; we then compared asymptomatic testing strategies by calculating the probability that a symptomatic infection is detected before symptom onset and the probability that an asymptomatic infection is detected within 7 days of infection. RESULTS: We estimated that the probability that the PCR test detected infection peaked at 77% (54-88%) 4 days after infection, decreasing to 50% (38-65%) by 10 days after infection. Our results suggest a substantially higher probability of detecting infections 1-3 days after infection than previously published estimates. We estimated that testing every other day would detect 57% (33-76%) of symptomatic cases prior to onset and 94% (75-99%) of asymptomatic cases within 7 days if test results were returned within a day. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that routine asymptomatic testing can enable detection of a high proportion of infected individuals early in their infection, provided that the testing is frequent and the time from testing to notification of results is sufficiently fast.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , Bayes Theorem , COVID-19/pathology , Female , Humans , Male
8.
Lancet Public Health ; 6(3): e175-e183, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1164723

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In most countries, contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are asked to quarantine for 14 days after exposure to limit asymptomatic onward transmission. While theoretically effective, this policy places a substantial social and economic burden on both the individual and wider society, which might result in low adherence and reduced policy effectiveness. We aimed to assess the merit of testing contacts to avert onward transmission and to replace or reduce the length of quarantine for uninfected contacts. METHODS: We used an agent-based model to simulate the viral load dynamics of exposed contacts, and their potential for onward transmission in different quarantine and testing strategies. We compared the performance of quarantines of differing durations, testing with either PCR or lateral flow antigen (LFA) tests at the end of quarantine, and daily LFA testing without quarantine, against the current 14-day quarantine strategy. We also investigated the effect of contact tracing delays and adherence to both quarantine and self-isolation on the effectiveness of each strategy. FINDINGS: Assuming moderate levels of adherence to quarantine and self-isolation, self-isolation on symptom onset alone can prevent 37% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 12-56) of onward transmission potential from secondary cases. 14 days of post-exposure quarantine reduces transmission by 59% (95% UI 28-79). Quarantine with release after a negative PCR test 7 days after exposure might avert a similar proportion (54%, 95% UI 31-81; risk ratio [RR] 0·94, 95% UI 0·62-1·24) to that of the 14-day quarantine period, as would quarantine with a negative LFA test 7 days after exposure (50%, 95% UI 28-77; RR 0·88, 0·66-1·11) or daily testing without quarantine for 5 days after tracing (50%, 95% UI 23-81; RR 0·88, 0·60-1·43) if all tests are returned negative. A stronger effect might be possible if individuals isolate more strictly after a positive test and if contacts can be notified faster. INTERPRETATION: Testing might allow for a substantial reduction in the length of, or replacement of, quarantine with a small excess in transmission risk. Decreasing test and trace delays and increasing adherence will further increase the effectiveness of these strategies. Further research is required to empirically evaluate the potential costs (increased transmission risk, false reassurance) and benefits (reduction in the burden of quarantine, increased adherence) of such strategies before adoption as policy. FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research, UK Research and Innovation, Wellcome Trust, EU Horizon 2021, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19/prevention & control , Contact Tracing , Quarantine , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Models, Theoretical
9.
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1942, 2021 03 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1157906

ABSTRACT

In early 2020 many countries closed schools to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Since then, governments have sought to relax the closures, engendering a need to understand associated risks. Using address records, we construct a network of schools in England connected through pupils who share households. We evaluate the risk of transmission between schools under different reopening scenarios. We show that whilst reopening select year-groups causes low risk of large-scale transmission, reopening secondary schools could result in outbreaks affecting up to 2.5 million households if unmitigated, highlighting the importance of careful monitoring and within-school infection control to avoid further school closures or other restrictions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , Family Characteristics , Schools/organization & administration , Adolescent , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Child , Child, Preschool , Disease Transmission, Infectious/prevention & control , England/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics , Risk Assessment , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Schools/statistics & numerical data
10.
PLoS Comput Biol ; 16(12): e1008409, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-966830

ABSTRACT

Estimation of the effective reproductive number Rt is important for detecting changes in disease transmission over time. During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, policy makers and public health officials are using Rt to assess the effectiveness of interventions and to inform policy. However, estimation of Rt from available data presents several challenges, with critical implications for the interpretation of the course of the pandemic. The purpose of this document is to summarize these challenges, illustrate them with examples from synthetic data, and, where possible, make recommendations. For near real-time estimation of Rt, we recommend the approach of Cori and colleagues, which uses data from before time t and empirical estimates of the distribution of time between infections. Methods that require data from after time t, such as Wallinga and Teunis, are conceptually and methodologically less suited for near real-time estimation, but may be appropriate for retrospective analyses of how individuals infected at different time points contributed to the spread. We advise caution when using methods derived from the approach of Bettencourt and Ribeiro, as the resulting Rt estimates may be biased if the underlying structural assumptions are not met. Two key challenges common to all approaches are accurate specification of the generation interval and reconstruction of the time series of new infections from observations occurring long after the moment of transmission. Naive approaches for dealing with observation delays, such as subtracting delays sampled from a distribution, can introduce bias. We provide suggestions for how to mitigate this and other technical challenges and highlight open problems in Rt estimation.


Subject(s)
Basic Reproduction Number , COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Computational Biology , Humans , Models, Statistical , SARS-CoV-2
11.
BMC Med ; 18(1): 332, 2020 10 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-885986

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Asymptomatic or subclinical SARS-CoV-2 infections are often unreported, which means that confirmed case counts may not accurately reflect underlying epidemic dynamics. Understanding the level of ascertainment (the ratio of confirmed symptomatic cases to the true number of symptomatic individuals) and undetected epidemic progression is crucial to informing COVID-19 response planning, including the introduction and relaxation of control measures. Estimating case ascertainment over time allows for accurate estimates of specific outcomes such as seroprevalence, which is essential for planning control measures. METHODS: Using reported data on COVID-19 cases and fatalities globally, we estimated the proportion of symptomatic cases (i.e. any person with any of fever ≥ 37.5 °C, cough, shortness of breath, sudden onset of anosmia, ageusia or dysgeusia illness) that were reported in 210 countries and territories, given those countries had experienced more than ten deaths. We used published estimates of the baseline case fatality ratio (CFR), which was adjusted for delays and under-ascertainment, then calculated the ratio of this baseline CFR to an estimated local delay-adjusted CFR to estimate the level of under-ascertainment in a particular location. We then fit a Bayesian Gaussian process model to estimate the temporal pattern of under-ascertainment. RESULTS: Based on reported cases and deaths, we estimated that, during March 2020, the median percentage of symptomatic cases detected across the 84 countries which experienced more than ten deaths ranged from 2.4% (Bangladesh) to 100% (Chile). Across the ten countries with the highest number of total confirmed cases as of 6 July 2020, we estimated that the peak number of symptomatic cases ranged from 1.4 times (Chile) to 18 times (France) larger than reported. Comparing our model with national and regional seroprevalence data where available, we find that our estimates are consistent with observed values. Finally, we estimated seroprevalence for each country. As of 7 June, our seroprevalence estimates range from 0% (many countries) to 13% (95% CrI 5.6-24%) (Belgium). CONCLUSIONS: We found substantial under-ascertainment of symptomatic cases, particularly at the peak of the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, in many countries. Reported case counts will therefore likely underestimate the rate of outbreak growth initially and underestimate the decline in the later stages of an epidemic. Although there was considerable under-reporting in many locations, our estimates were consistent with emerging serological data, suggesting that the proportion of each country's population infected with SARS-CoV-2 worldwide is generally low.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Bayes Theorem , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Seroepidemiologic Studies
12.
Preprint in English | ProQuest Central | ID: ppcovidwho-2086

ABSTRACT

Background: The current novel coronavirus outbreak appears to have originated from a point-source exposure event at Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China. There is still uncertainty around the scale and duration of this exposure event. This has implications for the estimated transmissibility of the coronavirus and as such, these potential scenarios should be explored. Methods: We used a stochastic branching process model, parameterised with available data where possible and otherwise informed by the 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, to simulate the Wuhan outbreak. We evaluated scenarios for the following parameters: the size, and duration of the initial transmission event, the serial interval, and the reproduction number (R0). We restricted model simulations based on the number of observed cases on the 25th of January, accepting samples that were within a 5% interval on either side of this estimate. Results: Using a pre-intervention SARS-like serial interval suggested a larger initial transmission event and a higher R0 estimate. Using a SARs-like serial interval we found that the most likely scenario produced an R0 estimate between 2-2.7 (90% credible interval (CrI)). A pre-intervention SARS-like serial interval resulted in an R0 estimate between 2-3 (90% CrI). There were other plausible scenarios with smaller events sizes and longer duration that had comparable R0 estimates. There were very few simulations that were able to reproduce the observed data when R0 was less than 1. Conclusions: Our results indicate that an R0 of less than 1 was highly unlikely unless the size of the initial exposure event was much greater than currently reported. We found that R0 estimates were comparable across scenarios with decreasing event size and increasing duration. Scenarios with a pre-intervention SARS-like serial interval resulted in a higher R0 and were equally plausible to scenarios with SARs-like serial intervals.

13.
Preprint in English | ProQuest Central | ID: ppcovidwho-2077

ABSTRACT

Background: Interventions are now in place worldwide to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus. Assessing temporal variations in transmission in different countries is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of public health interventions and the impact of changes in policy. Methods: We use case notification data to generate daily estimates of the time-dependent reproduction number in different regions and countries. Our modelling framework, based on open source tooling, accounts for reporting delays, so that temporal variations in reproduction number estimates can be compared directly with the times at which interventions are implemented. Results: We provide three example uses of our framework. First, we demonstrate how the toolset displays temporal changes in the reproduction number. Second, we show how the framework can be used to reconstruct case counts by date of infection from case counts by date of notification, as well as to estimate the reproduction number. Third, we show how maps can be generated to clearly show if case numbers are likely to decrease or increase in different regions. Results are shown for regions and countries worldwide on our website (https://epiforecasts.io/covid/) and are updated daily. Our tooling is provided as an open-source R package to allow replication by others. Conclusions: This decision-support tool can be used to assess changes in virus transmission in different regions and countries worldwide. This allows policymakers to assess the effectiveness of current interventions, and will be useful for inferring whether or not transmission will increase when interventions are lifted. As well as providing daily updates on our website, we also provide adaptable computing code so that our approach can be used directly by researchers and policymakers on confidential datasets. We hope that our tool will be used to support decisions in countries worldwide throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

14.
Elife ; 92020 08 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-729762

ABSTRACT

A key unknown for SARS-CoV-2 is how asymptomatic infections contribute to transmission. We used a transmission model with asymptomatic and presymptomatic states, calibrated to data on disease onset and test frequency from the Diamond Princess cruise ship outbreak, to quantify the contribution of asymptomatic infections to transmission. The model estimated that 74% (70-78%, 95% posterior interval) of infections proceeded asymptomatically. Despite intense testing, 53% (51-56%) of infections remained undetected, most of them asymptomatic. Asymptomatic individuals were the source for 69% (20-85%) of all infections. The data did not allow identification of the infectiousness of asymptomatic infections, however low ranges (0-25%) required a net reproduction number for individuals progressing through presymptomatic and symptomatic stages of at least 15. Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections may contribute substantially to transmission. Control measures, and models projecting their potential impact, need to look beyond the symptomatic cases if they are to understand and address ongoing transmission.


Subject(s)
Asymptomatic Diseases , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Ships/statistics & numerical data , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Calibration , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Humans , Incidence , Models, Statistical , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2
15.
Nat Med ; 26(10): 1616-1622, 2020 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-705216

ABSTRACT

Case isolation and contact tracing can contribute to the control of COVID-19 outbreaks1,2. However, it remains unclear how real-world social networks could influence the effectiveness and efficiency of such approaches. To address this issue, we simulated control strategies for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a real-world social network generated from high-resolution GPS data that were gathered in the course of a citizen-science experiment3,4. We found that tracing the contacts of contacts reduced the size of simulated outbreaks more than tracing of only contacts, but this strategy also resulted in almost half of the local population being quarantined at a single point in time. Testing and releasing non-infectious individuals from quarantine led to increases in outbreak size, suggesting that contact tracing and quarantine might be most effective as a 'local lockdown' strategy when contact rates are high. Finally, we estimated that combining physical distancing with contact tracing could enable epidemic control while reducing the number of quarantined individuals. Our findings suggest that targeted tracing and quarantine strategies would be most efficient when combined with other control measures such as physical distancing.


Subject(s)
Contact Tracing , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Patient Isolation , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Quarantine , Social Networking , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Humans , Models, Statistical , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , SARS-CoV-2
17.
Wellcome Open Res ; 5: 17, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-124338

ABSTRACT

Background: The current novel coronavirus outbreak appears to have originated from a point-source exposure event at Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China. There is still uncertainty around the scale and duration of this exposure event. This has implications for the estimated transmissibility of the coronavirus and as such, these potential scenarios should be explored.   Methods: We used a stochastic branching process model, parameterised with available data where possible and otherwise informed by the 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, to simulate the Wuhan outbreak. We evaluated scenarios for the following parameters: the size, and duration of the initial transmission event, the serial interval, and the reproduction number (R0). We restricted model simulations based on the number of observed cases on the 25th of January, accepting samples that were within a 5% interval on either side of this estimate. Results: Using a pre-intervention SARS-like serial interval suggested a larger initial transmission event and a higher R0 estimate. Using a SARs-like serial interval we found that the most likely scenario produced an R0 estimate between 2-2.7 (90% credible interval (CrI)). A pre-intervention SARS-like serial interval resulted in an R0 estimate between 2-3 (90% CrI). There were other plausible scenarios with smaller events sizes and longer duration that had comparable R0 estimates. There were very few simulations that were able to reproduce the observed data when R0 was less than 1. Conclusions: Our results indicate that an R0 of less than 1 was highly unlikely unless the size of the initial exposure event was much greater than currently reported. We found that R0 estimates were comparable across scenarios with decreasing event size and increasing duration. Scenarios with a pre-intervention SARS-like serial interval resulted in a higher R0 and were equally plausible to scenarios with SARs-like serial intervals.

18.
Euro Surveill ; 25(12)2020 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-15802

ABSTRACT

Adjusting for delay from confirmation to death, we estimated case and infection fatality ratios (CFR, IFR) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the Diamond Princess ship as 2.6% (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.89-6.7) and 1.3% (95% CI: 0.38-3.6), respectively. Comparing deaths on board with expected deaths based on naive CFR estimates from China, we estimated CFR and IFR in China to be 1.2% (95% CI: 0.3-2.7) and 0.6% (95% CI: 0.2-1.3), respectively.


Subject(s)
Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Coronavirus Infections/mortality , Coronavirus/isolation & purification , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/mortality , Ships , Travel , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Child , Child, Preschool , Contact Tracing , Coronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Middle Aged , Mortality , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Point-of-Care Systems , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , Young Adult
19.
Lancet Glob Health ; 8(4): e488-e496, 2020 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2829

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Isolation of cases and contact tracing is used to control outbreaks of infectious diseases, and has been used for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Whether this strategy will achieve control depends on characteristics of both the pathogen and the response. Here we use a mathematical model to assess if isolation and contact tracing are able to control onwards transmission from imported cases of COVID-19. METHODS: We developed a stochastic transmission model, parameterised to the COVID-19 outbreak. We used the model to quantify the potential effectiveness of contact tracing and isolation of cases at controlling a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-like pathogen. We considered scenarios that varied in the number of initial cases, the basic reproduction number (R0), the delay from symptom onset to isolation, the probability that contacts were traced, the proportion of transmission that occurred before symptom onset, and the proportion of subclinical infections. We assumed isolation prevented all further transmission in the model. Outbreaks were deemed controlled if transmission ended within 12 weeks or before 5000 cases in total. We measured the success of controlling outbreaks using isolation and contact tracing, and quantified the weekly maximum number of cases traced to measure feasibility of public health effort. FINDINGS: Simulated outbreaks starting with five initial cases, an R0 of 1·5, and 0% transmission before symptom onset could be controlled even with low contact tracing probability; however, the probability of controlling an outbreak decreased with the number of initial cases, when R0 was 2·5 or 3·5 and with more transmission before symptom onset. Across different initial numbers of cases, the majority of scenarios with an R0 of 1·5 were controllable with less than 50% of contacts successfully traced. To control the majority of outbreaks, for R0 of 2·5 more than 70% of contacts had to be traced, and for an R0 of 3·5 more than 90% of contacts had to be traced. The delay between symptom onset and isolation had the largest role in determining whether an outbreak was controllable when R0 was 1·5. For R0 values of 2·5 or 3·5, if there were 40 initial cases, contact tracing and isolation were only potentially feasible when less than 1% of transmission occurred before symptom onset. INTERPRETATION: In most scenarios, highly effective contact tracing and case isolation is enough to control a new outbreak of COVID-19 within 3 months. The probability of control decreases with long delays from symptom onset to isolation, fewer cases ascertained by contact tracing, and increasing transmission before symptoms. This model can be modified to reflect updated transmission characteristics and more specific definitions of outbreak control to assess the potential success of local response efforts. FUNDING: Wellcome Trust, Global Challenges Research Fund, and Health Data Research UK.


Subject(s)
Contact Tracing , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Patient Isolation , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Feasibility Studies , Humans , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , SARS-CoV-2
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