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2.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 5192, 2022 03 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1764203

ABSTRACT

Human behaviour is known to be crucial in the propagation of infectious diseases through respiratory or close-contact routes like the current SARS-CoV-2 virus. Intervention measures implemented to curb the spread of the virus mainly aim at limiting the number of close contacts, until vaccine roll-out is complete. Our main objective was to assess the relationships between SARS-CoV-2 perceptions and social contact behaviour in Belgium. Understanding these relationships is crucial to maximize interventions' effectiveness, e.g. by tailoring public health communication campaigns. In this study, we surveyed a representative sample of adults in Belgium in two longitudinal surveys (survey 1 in April 2020 to August 2020, and survey 2 in November 2020 to April 2021). Generalized linear mixed effects models were used to analyse the two surveys. Participants with low and neutral perceptions on perceived severity made a significantly higher number of social contacts as compared to participants with high levels of perceived severity after controlling for other variables. Our results highlight the key role of perceived severity on social contact behaviour during a pandemic. Nevertheless, additional research is required to investigate the impact of public health communication on severity of COVID-19 in terms of changes in social contact behaviour.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Diseases , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2
3.
Euro Surveill ; 27(11)2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1753318

ABSTRACT

When SARS-CoV-2 Omicron emerged in 2021, S gene target failure enabled differentiation between Omicron and the dominant Delta variant. In England, where S gene target surveillance (SGTS) was already established, this led to rapid identification (within ca 3 days of sample collection) of possible Omicron cases, alongside real-time surveillance and modelling of Omicron growth. SGTS was key to public health action (including case identification and incident management), and we share applied insights on how and when to use SGTS.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Membrane Glycoproteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Viral Envelope Proteins/genetics
4.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis ; 16(2): e0010163, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1745362

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The evaluation of ring vaccination and other outbreak-containment interventions during severe and rapidly-evolving epidemics presents a challenge for the choice of a feasible study design, and subsequently, for the estimation of statistical power. To support a future evaluation of a case-area targeted intervention against cholera, we have proposed a prospective observational study design to estimate the association between the strength of implementation of this intervention across several small outbreaks (occurring within geographically delineated clusters around primary and secondary cases named 'rings') and its effectiveness (defined as a reduction in cholera incidence). We describe here a strategy combining mathematical modelling and simulation to estimate power for a prospective observational study. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The strategy combines stochastic modelling of transmission and the direct and indirect effects of the intervention in a set of rings, with a simulation of the study analysis on the model results. We found that targeting 80 to 100 rings was required to achieve power ≥80%, using a basic reproduction number of 2.0 and a dispersion coefficient of 1.0-1.5. CONCLUSIONS: This power estimation strategy is feasible to implement for observational study designs which aim to evaluate outbreak containment for other pathogens in geographically or socially defined rings.


Subject(s)
Cholera/epidemiology , Computer Simulation , Basic Reproduction Number , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , Models, Theoretical , Prospective Studies
5.
PLoS Med ; 19(3): e1003907, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1714705

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the United Kingdom government imposed public health policies in England to reduce social contacts in hopes of curbing virus transmission. We conducted a repeated cross-sectional study to measure contact patterns weekly from March 2020 to March 2021 to estimate the impact of these policies, covering 3 national lockdowns interspersed by periods of less restrictive policies. METHODS AND FINDINGS: The repeated cross-sectional survey data were collected using online surveys of representative samples of the UK population by age and gender. Survey participants were recruited by the online market research company Ipsos MORI through internet-based banner and social media ads and email campaigns. The participant data used for this analysis are restricted to those who reported living in England. We calculated the mean daily contacts reported using a (clustered) bootstrap and fitted a censored negative binomial model to estimate age-stratified contact matrices and estimate proportional changes to the basic reproduction number under controlled conditions using the change in contacts as a scaling factor. To put the findings in perspective, we discuss contact rates recorded throughout the year in terms of previously recorded rates from the POLYMOD study social contact study. The survey recorded 101,350 observations from 19,914 participants who reported 466,710 contacts over 53 weeks. We observed changes in social contact patterns in England over time and by participants' age, personal risk factors, and perception of risk. The mean reported contacts for adults 18 to 59 years old ranged between 2.39 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.20 to 2.60) contacts and 4.93 (95% CI 4.65 to 5.19) contacts during the study period. The mean contacts for school-age children (5 to 17 years old) ranged from 3.07 (95% CI 2.89 to 3.27) to 15.11 (95% CI 13.87 to 16.41). This demonstrates a sustained decrease in social contacts compared to a mean of 11.08 (95% CI 10.54 to 11.57) contacts per participant in all age groups combined as measured by the POLYMOD social contact study in 2005 to 2006. Contacts measured during periods of lockdowns were lower than in periods of eased social restrictions. The use of face coverings outside the home has remained high since the government mandated use in some settings in July 2020. The main limitations of this analysis are the potential for selection bias, as participants are recruited through internet-based campaigns, and recall bias, in which participants may under- or overreport the number of contacts they have made. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we observed that recorded contacts reduced dramatically compared to prepandemic levels (as measured in the POLYMOD study), with changes in reported contacts correlated with government interventions throughout the pandemic. Despite easing of restrictions in the summer of 2020, the mean number of reported contacts only returned to about half of that observed prepandemic at its highest recorded level. The CoMix survey provides a unique repeated cross-sectional data set for a full year in England, from the first day of the first lockdown, for use in statistical analyses and mathematical modelling of COVID-19 and other diseases.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Social Interaction , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Attitude to Health , Cross-Sectional Studies , England , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Models, Psychological , Pandemics , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
6.
Vaccine ; 40(8): 1180-1189, 2022 02 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1621088

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: While population estimates suggest high vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection, the protection for health care workers, who are at higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure, is less understood. METHODS: We conducted a national cohort study of health care workers in Wales (UK) from 7 December 2020 to 30 September 2021. We examined uptake of any COVID-19 vaccine, and the effectiveness of BNT162b2 mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech) against polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. We used linked and routinely collected national-scale data within the SAIL Databank. Data were available on 82,959 health care workers in Wales, with exposure extending to 26 weeks after second doses. RESULTS: Overall vaccine uptake was high (90%), with most health care workers receiving theBNT162b2 vaccine (79%). Vaccine uptake differed by age, staff role, socioeconomic status; those aged 50-59 and 60+ years old were 1.6 times more likely to get vaccinated than those aged 16-29. Medical and dental staff, and Allied Health Practitioners were 1.5 and 1.1 times more likely to get vaccinated, compared to nursing and midwifery staff. The effectiveness of the BNT162b2 vaccine was found to be strong and consistent across the characteristics considered; 52% three to six weeks after first dose, 86% from two weeks after second dose, though this declined to 53% from 22 weeks after the second dose. CONCLUSIONS: With some variation in rate of uptake, those who were vaccinated had a reduced risk of PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared to those unvaccinated. Second dose has provided stronger protection for longer than first dose but our study is consistent with waning from seven weeks onwards.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Adolescent , Adult , Cohort Studies , Health Personnel , Humans , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Wales/epidemiology , Young Adult
7.
BMC Med ; 19(1): 299, 2021 11 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1511749

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: To reduce the coronavirus disease burden in England, along with many other countries, the government implemented a package of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that have also impacted other transmissible infectious diseases such as norovirus. It is unclear what future norovirus disease incidence is likely to look like upon lifting these restrictions. METHODS: Here we use a mathematical model of norovirus fitted to community incidence data in England to project forward expected incidence based on contact surveys that have been collected throughout 2020-2021. RESULTS: We report that susceptibility to norovirus infection has likely increased between March 2020 and mid-2021. Depending upon assumptions of future contact patterns incidence of norovirus that is similar to pre-pandemic levels or an increase beyond what has been previously reported is likely to occur once restrictions are lifted. Should adult contact patterns return to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, the incidence of norovirus will be similar to previous years. If contact patterns return to pre-pandemic levels, there is a potential for the expected annual incidence to be up to 2-fold larger than in a typical year. The age-specific incidence is similar across all ages. CONCLUSIONS: Continued national surveillance for endemic diseases such as norovirus will be essential after NPIs are lifted to allow healthcare services to adequately prepare for a potential increase in cases and hospital pressures beyond what is typically experienced.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Norovirus , England/epidemiology , Humans , Models, Theoretical , SARS-CoV-2
8.
BMC Med ; 19(1): 254, 2021 09 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1496170

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 dynamics are driven by human behaviour. Social contact data are of utmost importance in the context of transmission models of close-contact infections. METHODS: Using online representative panels of adults reporting on their own behaviour as well as parents reporting on the behaviour of one of their children, we collect contact mixing (CoMix) behaviour in various phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in over 20 European countries. We provide these timely, repeated observations using an online platform: SOCRATES-CoMix. In addition to providing cleaned datasets to researchers, the platform allows users to extract contact matrices that can be stratified by age, type of day, intensity of the contact and gender. These observations provide insights on the relative impact of recommended or imposed social distance measures on contacts and can inform mathematical models on epidemic spread. CONCLUSION: These data provide essential information for policymakers to balance non-pharmaceutical interventions, economic activity, mental health and wellbeing, during vaccine rollout.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Adult , Child , Europe/epidemiology , Humans , Models, Theoretical , SARS-CoV-2
9.
Science ; 372(6538)2021 04 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1476375

ABSTRACT

A severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant, VOC 202012/01 (lineage B.1.1.7), emerged in southeast England in September 2020 and is rapidly spreading toward fixation. Using a variety of statistical and dynamic modeling approaches, we estimate that this variant has a 43 to 90% (range of 95% credible intervals, 38 to 130%) higher reproduction number than preexisting variants. A fitted two-strain dynamic transmission model shows that VOC 202012/01 will lead to large resurgences of COVID-19 cases. Without stringent control measures, including limited closure of educational institutions and a greatly accelerated vaccine rollout, COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths across England in the first 6 months of 2021 were projected to exceed those in 2020. VOC 202012/01 has spread globally and exhibits a similar transmission increase (59 to 74%) in Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Basic Reproduction Number , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19 Vaccines , Child , Child, Preschool , Communicable Disease Control , England/epidemiology , Europe/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Infant , Male , Middle Aged , Models, Theoretical , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Severity of Illness Index , Socioeconomic Factors , United States/epidemiology , Viral Load , Young Adult
10.
BMC Med ; 19(1): 233, 2021 09 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1403237

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Schools were closed in England on 4 January 2021 as part of increased national restrictions to curb transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The UK government reopened schools on 8 March. Although there was evidence of lower individual-level transmission risk amongst children compared to adults, the combined effects of this with increased contact rates in school settings and the resulting impact on the overall transmission rate in the population were not clear. METHODS: We measured social contacts of > 5000 participants weekly from March 2020, including periods when schools were both open and closed, amongst other restrictions. We combined these data with estimates of the susceptibility and infectiousness of children compared with adults to estimate the impact of reopening schools on the reproduction number. RESULTS: Our analysis indicates that reopening all schools under the same measures as previous periods that combined lockdown with face-to-face schooling would be likely to increase the reproduction number substantially. Assuming a baseline of 0.8, we estimated a likely increase to between 1.0 and 1.5 with the reopening of all schools or to between 0.9 and 1.2 reopening primary or secondary schools alone. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that reopening schools would likely halt the fall in cases observed between January and March 2021 and would risk a return to rising infections, but these estimates relied heavily on the latest estimates or reproduction number and the validity of the susceptibility and infectiousness profiles we used at the time of reopening.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , Child , Communicable Disease Control , England/epidemiology , Humans , Reproduction , Schools
11.
Science ; 371(6538):149-149, 2021.
Article in English | Academic Search Complete | ID: covidwho-1181922

ABSTRACT

The article discusses about the novel variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that caused COVID-19. One of these variant of concern was B.1.1.7 which was first detected in southeast England and spread to become the dominant lineage in the United Kingdom in just a few months.

12.
Nature ; 593(7858): 270-274, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1135672

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7, a variant that was first detected in the UK in September 20201, has spread to multiple countries worldwide. Several studies have established that B.1.1.7 is more transmissible than pre-existing variants, but have not identified whether it leads to any change in disease severity2. Here we analyse a dataset that links 2,245,263 positive SARS-CoV-2 community tests and 17,452 deaths associated with COVID-19 in England from 1 November 2020 to 14 February 2021. For 1,146,534 (51%) of these tests, the presence or absence of B.1.1.7 can be identified because mutations in this lineage prevent PCR amplification of the spike (S) gene target (known as S gene target failure (SGTF)1). On the basis of 4,945 deaths with known SGTF status, we estimate that the hazard of death associated with SGTF is 55% (95% confidence interval, 39-72%) higher than in cases without SGTF after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, residence in a care home, the local authority of residence and test date. This corresponds to the absolute risk of death for a 55-69-year-old man increasing from 0.6% to 0.9% (95% confidence interval, 0.8-1.0%) within 28 days of a positive test in the community. Correcting for misclassification of SGTF and missingness in SGTF status, we estimate that the hazard of death associated with B.1.1.7 is 61% (42-82%) higher than with pre-existing variants. Our analysis suggests that B.1.1.7 is not only more transmissible than pre-existing SARS-CoV-2 variants, but may also cause more severe illness.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/virology , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Child , Child, Preschool , England/epidemiology , Evolution, Molecular , Female , Homes for the Aged , Humans , Infant , Male , Middle Aged , Proportional Hazards Models , Risk Assessment , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Survival Analysis , Time Factors , Young Adult
13.
BMC Med ; 19(1): 52, 2021 02 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1090667

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: England's COVID-19 response transitioned from a national lockdown to localised interventions. In response to rising cases, these were supplemented by national restrictions on contacts (the Rule of Six), then 10 pm closing for bars and restaurants, and encouragement to work from home. These were quickly followed by a 3-tier system applying different restrictions in different localities. As cases continued to rise, a second national lockdown was declared. We used a national survey to quantify the impact of these restrictions on epidemiologically relevant contacts. METHODS: We compared paired measures on setting-specific contacts before and after each restriction started and tested for differences using paired permutation tests on the mean change in contacts and the proportion of individuals decreasing their contacts. RESULTS: Following the imposition of each measure, individuals tended to report fewer contacts than they had before. However, the magnitude of the changes was relatively small and variable. For instance, although early closure of bars and restaurants appeared to have no measurable effect on contacts, the work from home directive reduced mean daily work contacts by 0.99 (95% confidence interval CI] 0.03-1.94), and the Rule of Six reduced non-work and school contacts by a mean of 0.25 (0.01-0.5) per day. Whilst Tier 3 appeared to also reduce non-work and school contacts, the evidence for an effect of the lesser restrictions (Tiers 1 and 2) was much weaker. There may also have been some evidence of saturation of effects, with those who were in Tier 1 (least restrictive) reducing their contacts markedly when they entered lockdown, which was not reflected in similar changes in those who were already under tighter restrictions (Tiers 2 and 3). CONCLUSIONS: The imposition of various local and national measures in England during the summer and autumn of 2020 has gradually reduced contacts. However, these changes are smaller than the initial lockdown in March. This may partly be because many individuals were already starting from a lower number of contacts.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Physical Distancing , Quarantine/trends , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Child , Child, Preschool , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Schools/trends , Workplace , Young Adult
14.
Wellcome Open Res ; 5: 78, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1068023

ABSTRACT

We estimate the number of COVID-19 cases from newly reported deaths in a population without previous reports. Our results suggest that by the time a single death occurs, hundreds to thousands of cases are likely to be present in that population. This suggests containment via contact tracing will be challenging at this point, and other response strategies should be considered. Our approach is implemented in a publicly available, user-friendly, online tool.

15.
Lancet Infect Dis ; 21(4): 482-492, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-989487

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: A second wave of COVID-19 cases in autumn, 2020, in England led to localised, tiered restrictions (so-called alert levels) and, subsequently, a second national lockdown. We examined the impact of these tiered restrictions, and alternatives for lockdown stringency, timing, and duration, on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission and hospital admissions and deaths from COVID-19. METHODS: We fit an age-structured mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to data on hospital admissions and hospital bed occupancy (ISARIC4C/COVID-19 Clinical Information Network, National Health Service [NHS] England), seroprevalence (Office for National Statistics, UK Biobank, REACT-2 study), virology (REACT-1 study), and deaths (Public Health England) across the seven NHS England regions from March 1, to Oct 13, 2020. We analysed mobility (Google Community Mobility) and social contact (CoMix study) data to estimate the effect of tiered restrictions implemented in England, and of lockdowns implemented in Northern Ireland and Wales, in October, 2020, and projected epidemiological scenarios for England up to March 31, 2021. FINDINGS: We estimated a reduction in the effective reproduction number (Rt) of 2% (95% credible interval [CrI] 0-4) for tier 2, 10% (6-14) for tier 3, 35% (30-41) for a Northern Ireland-stringency lockdown with schools closed, and 44% (37-49) for a Wales-stringency lockdown with schools closed. From Oct 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, a projected COVID-19 epidemic without tiered restrictions or lockdown results in 280 000 (95% projection interval 274 000-287 000) hospital admissions and 58 500 (55 800-61 100) deaths. Tiered restrictions would reduce hospital admissions to 238 000 (231 000-245 000) and deaths to 48 600 (46 400-50 700). From Nov 5, 2020, a 4-week Wales-type lockdown with schools remaining open-similar to the lockdown measures announced in England in November, 2020-was projected to further reduce hospital admissions to 186 000 (179 000-193 000) and deaths to 36 800 (34 900-38 800). Closing schools was projected to further reduce hospital admissions to 157 000 (152 000-163 000) and deaths to 30 300 (29 000-31 900). A projected lockdown of greater than 4 weeks would reduce deaths but would bring diminishing returns in reducing peak pressure on hospital services. An earlier lockdown would have reduced deaths and hospitalisations in the short term, but would lead to a faster resurgence in cases after January, 2021. In a post-hoc analysis, we estimated that the second lockdown in England (Nov 5-Dec 2) reduced Rt by 22% (95% CrI 15-29), rather than the 32% (25-39) reduction estimated for a Wales-stringency lockdown with schools open. INTERPRETATION: Lockdown measures outperform less stringent restrictions in reducing cumulative deaths. We projected that the lockdown policy announced to commence in England on Nov 5, with a similar stringency to the lockdown adopted in Wales, would reduce pressure on the health service and would be well timed to suppress deaths over the winter period, while allowing schools to remain open. Following completion of the analysis, we analysed new data from November, 2020, and found that despite similarities in policy, the second lockdown in England had a smaller impact on behaviour than did the second lockdown in Wales, resulting in more deaths and hospitalisations than we originally projected when focusing on a Wales-stringency scenario for the lockdown. FUNDING: Horizon 2020, UK Medical Research Council, and the National Institute for Health Research.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/transmission , Communicable Disease Control , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Models, Statistical , Basic Reproduction Number , England/epidemiology , Epidemics , Forecasting , Hospital Bed Capacity , Hospitals , Humans , Intensive Care Units/statistics & numerical data , Northern Ireland/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Seroepidemiologic Studies , State Medicine , Wales/epidemiology
16.
Sci Rep ; 10(1): 21885, 2020 12 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-977272

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how a newly emergent communicable disease can lay considerable burden on public health. To avoid system collapse, governments have resorted to several social distancing measures. In Belgium, this included a lockdown and a following period of phased re-opening. A representative sample of Belgian adults was asked about their contact behaviour from mid-April to the beginning of August, during different stages of the intervention measures in Belgium. Use of personal protection equipment (face masks) and compliance to hygienic measures was also reported. We estimated the expected reproduction number computing the ratio of [Formula: see text] with respect to pre-pandemic data. During the first two waves (the first month) of the survey, the reduction in the average number of contacts was around 80% and was quite consistent across all age-classes. The average number of contacts increased over time, particularly for the younger age classes, still remaining significantly lower than pre-pandemic values. From the end of May to the end of July , the estimated reproduction number has a median value larger than one, although with a wide dispersion. Estimated [Formula: see text] fell below one again at the beginning of August. We have shown how a rapidly deployed survey can measure compliance to social distancing and assess its impact on COVID-19 spread. Monitoring the effectiveness of social distancing recommendations is of paramount importance to avoid further waves of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , Hand Hygiene/statistics & numerical data , Masks/statistics & numerical data , Pandemics/prevention & control , Physical Distancing , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Belgium/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
17.
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
18.
BMC Med ; 18(1): 324, 2020 10 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-868555

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The health impact of COVID-19 may differ in African settings as compared to countries in Europe or China due to demographic, epidemiological, environmental and socio-economic factors. We evaluated strategies to reduce SARS-CoV-2 burden in African countries, so as to support decisions that balance minimising mortality, protecting health services and safeguarding livelihoods. METHODS: We used a Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered mathematical model, stratified by age, to predict the evolution of COVID-19 epidemics in three countries representing a range of age distributions in Africa (from oldest to youngest average age: Mauritius, Nigeria and Niger), under various effectiveness assumptions for combinations of different non-pharmaceutical interventions: self-isolation of symptomatic people, physical distancing and 'shielding' (physical isolation) of the high-risk population. We adapted model parameters to better represent uncertainty about what might be expected in African populations, in particular by shifting the distribution of severity risk towards younger ages and increasing the case-fatality ratio. We also present sensitivity analyses for key model parameters subject to uncertainty. RESULTS: We predicted median symptomatic attack rates over the first 12 months of 23% (Niger) to 42% (Mauritius), peaking at 2-4 months, if epidemics were unmitigated. Self-isolation while symptomatic had a maximum impact of about 30% on reducing severe cases, while the impact of physical distancing varied widely depending on percent contact reduction and R0. The effect of shielding high-risk people, e.g. by rehousing them in physical isolation, was sensitive mainly to residual contact with low-risk people, and to a lesser extent to contact among shielded individuals. Mitigation strategies incorporating self-isolation of symptomatic individuals, moderate physical distancing and high uptake of shielding reduced predicted peak bed demand and mortality by around 50%. Lockdowns delayed epidemics by about 3 months. Estimates were sensitive to differences in age-specific social mixing patterns, as published in the literature, and assumptions on transmissibility, infectiousness of asymptomatic cases and risk of severe disease or death by age. CONCLUSIONS: In African settings, as elsewhere, current evidence suggests large COVID-19 epidemics are expected. However, African countries have fewer means to suppress transmission and manage cases. We found that self-isolation of symptomatic persons and general physical distancing are unlikely to avert very large epidemics, unless distancing takes the form of stringent lockdown measures. However, both interventions help to mitigate the epidemic. Shielding of high-risk individuals can reduce health service demand and, even more markedly, mortality if it features high uptake and low contact of shielded and unshielded people, with no increase in contact among shielded people. Strategies combining self-isolation, moderate physical distancing and shielding could achieve substantial reductions in mortality in African countries. Temporary lockdowns, where socioeconomically acceptable, can help gain crucial time for planning and expanding health service capacity.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Models, Biological , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Adolescent , Adult , Age Distribution , Aged, 80 and over , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Child , Child, Preschool , Cost of Illness , Epidemics , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Niger , Nigeria , Psychological Distance , SARS-CoV-2 , Uncertainty , Young Adult
19.
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 5012, 2020 10 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-834878

ABSTRACT

Understanding changes in human mobility in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial for assessing the impacts of travel restrictions designed to reduce disease spread. Here, relying on data from mainland China, we investigate the spatio-temporal characteristics of human mobility between 1st January and 1st March 2020, and discuss their public health implications. An outbound travel surge from Wuhan before travel restrictions were implemented was also observed across China due to the Lunar New Year, indicating that holiday travel may have played a larger role in mobility changes compared to impending travel restrictions. Holiday travel also shifted healthcare pressure related to COVID-19 towards locations with lower healthcare capacity. Network analyses showed no sign of major changes in the transportation network after Lunar New Year. Changes observed were temporary and did not lead to structural reorganisation of the transportation network during the study period.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Travel/trends , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , China/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care , Holidays , Humans , Population Density , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2 , Time Factors , Transportation
20.
BMC Med ; 18(1): 316, 2020 10 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-814583

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Many low- and middle-income countries have implemented control measures against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, it is not clear to what extent these measures explain the low numbers of recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths in Africa. One of the main aims of control measures is to reduce respiratory pathogen transmission through direct contact with others. In this study, we collect contact data from residents of informal settlements around Nairobi, Kenya, to assess if control measures have changed contact patterns, and estimate the impact of changes on the basic reproduction number (R0). METHODS: We conducted a social contact survey with 213 residents of five informal settlements around Nairobi in early May 2020, 4 weeks after the Kenyan government introduced enhanced physical distancing measures and a curfew between 7 pm and 5 am. Respondents were asked to report all direct physical and non-physical contacts made the previous day, alongside a questionnaire asking about the social and economic impact of COVID-19 and control measures. We examined contact patterns by demographic factors, including socioeconomic status. We described the impact of COVID-19 and control measures on income and food security. We compared contact patterns during control measures to patterns from non-pandemic periods to estimate the change in R0. RESULTS: We estimate that control measures reduced physical contacts by 62% and non-physical contacts by either 63% or 67%, depending on the pre-COVID-19 comparison matrix used. Masks were worn by at least one person in 92% of contacts. Respondents in the poorest socioeconomic quintile reported 1.5 times more contacts than those in the richest. Eighty-six percent of respondents reported a total or partial loss of income due to COVID-19, and 74% reported eating less or skipping meals due to having too little money for food. CONCLUSION: COVID-19 control measures have had a large impact on direct contacts and therefore transmission, but have also caused considerable economic and food insecurity. Reductions in R0 are consistent with the comparatively low epidemic growth in Kenya and other sub-Saharan African countries that implemented similar, early control measures. However, negative and inequitable impacts on economic and food security may mean control measures are not sustainable in the longer term.


Subject(s)
Communicable Disease Control , Coronavirus Infections , Disease Transmission, Infectious/prevention & control , Interpersonal Relations , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Adult , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Communicable Disease Control/statistics & numerical data , Coronavirus Infections/economics , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Female , Humans , Kenya/epidemiology , Male , Outcome Assessment, Health Care , Pandemics/economics , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/economics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Poverty/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Isolation , Socioeconomic Factors , Surveys and Questionnaires
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