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2.
J Infect Dis ; 2023 Apr 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2306208

ABSTRACT

We described the frequency of residential case clusters and the efficiency of compulsory testing in identifying cases using buildings targeted in compulsory testing and locally infected COVID-19 cases matched by residence in Hong Kong. Most of the buildings (4246/7688, 55.2%) with COVID-19 cases identified had only one reported case and 13% of the daily reported cases were detected through compulsory testing. Compulsory testing notices could be essential in attempting to eliminate infections ('zero covid') and impactful early in an epidemic but appears to be relatively inefficient in response to sustained community transmission.

3.
Nat Commun ; 14(1): 2422, 2023 04 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2305911

ABSTRACT

Hong Kong experienced a surge of Omicron BA.2 infections in early 2022, resulting in one of the highest per-capita death rates of COVID-19. The outbreak occurred in a dense population with low immunity towards natural SARS-CoV-2 infection, high vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable populations, comprehensive disease surveillance and the capacity for stringent public health and social measures (PHSMs). By analyzing genome sequences and epidemiological data, we reconstructed the epidemic trajectory of BA.2 wave and found that the initial BA.2 community transmission emerged from cross-infection within hotel quarantine. The rapid implementation of PHSMs suppressed early epidemic growth but the effective reproduction number (Re) increased again during the Spring festival in early February and remained around 1 until early April. Independent estimates of point prevalence and incidence using phylodynamics also showed extensive superspreading at this time, which likely contributed to the rapid expansion of the epidemic. Discordant inferences based on genomic and epidemiological data underscore the need for research to improve near real-time epidemic growth estimates by combining multiple disparate data sources to better inform outbreak response policy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Humans , COVID-19/epidemiology , Hong Kong/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Disease Outbreaks , Basic Reproduction Number
4.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 119(48): e2213313119, 2022 Nov 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2257664

ABSTRACT

Hong Kong has implemented stringent public health and social measures (PHSMs) to curb each of the four COVID-19 epidemic waves since January 2020. The third wave between July and September 2020 was brought under control within 2 m, while the fourth wave starting from the end of October 2020 has taken longer to bring under control and lasted at least 5 mo. Here, we report the pandemic fatigue as one of the potential reasons for the reduced impact of PHSMs on transmission in the fourth wave. We contacted either 500 or 1,000 local residents through weekly random-digit dialing of landlines and mobile telephones from May 2020 to February 2021. We analyze the epidemiological impact of pandemic fatigue by using the large and detailed cross-sectional telephone surveys to quantify risk perception and self-reported protective behaviors and mathematical models to incorporate population protective behaviors. Our retrospective prediction suggests that an increase of 100 daily new reported cases would lead to 6.60% (95% CI: 4.03, 9.17) more people worrying about being infected, increase 3.77% (95% CI: 2.46, 5.09) more people to avoid social gatherings, and reduce the weekly mean reproduction number by 0.32 (95% CI: 0.20, 0.44). Accordingly, the fourth wave would have been 14% (95% CI%: -53%, 81%) smaller if not for pandemic fatigue. This indicates the important role of mitigating pandemic fatigue in maintaining population protective behaviors for controlling COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Retrospective Studies , Fatigue/epidemiology , Fatigue/prevention & control
5.
Sci Total Environ ; 875: 162661, 2023 Jun 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2274043

ABSTRACT

The paper discusses the implementation of Hong Kong's tailor-made sewage surveillance programme led by the Government, which has demonstrated how an efficient and well-organized sewage surveillance system can complement conventional epidemiological surveillance to facilitate the planning of intervention strategies and actions for combating COVID-19 pandemic in real-time. This included the setting up of a comprehensive sewerage network-based SARS-CoV-2 virus surveillance programme with 154 stationary sites covering 6 million people (or 80 % of the total population), and employing an intensive monitoring programme to take samples from each stationary site every 2 days. From 1 January to 22 May 2022, the daily confirmed case count started with 17 cases per day on 1 January to a maximum of 76,991 cases on 3 March and dropped to 237 cases on 22 May. During this period, a total of 270 "Restriction-Testing Declaration" (RTD) operations at high-risk residential areas were conducted based on the sewage virus testing results, where over 26,500 confirmed cases were detected with a majority being asymptomatic. In addition, Compulsory Testing Notices (CTN) were issued to residents, and the distribution of Rapid Antigen Test kits was adopted as alternatives to RTD operations in areas of moderate risk. These measures formulated a tiered and cost-effective approach to combat the disease in the local setting. Some ongoing and future enhancement efforts to improve efficacy are discussed from the perspective of wastewater-based epidemiology. Forecast models on case counts based on sewage virus testing results were also developed with R2 of 0.9669-0.9775, which estimated that up to 22 May 2022, around 2,000,000 people (~67 % higher than the total number of 1,200,000 reported to the health authority, due to various constraints or limitations) had potentially contracted the disease, which is believed to be reflecting the real situation occurring in a highly urbanized metropolis like Hong Kong.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Humans , COVID-19/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Wastewater-Based Epidemiological Monitoring , Sewage , Pandemics , Hong Kong/epidemiology
6.
Lancet Infect Dis ; 23(4): 421-434, 2023 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2284600

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against symptomatic infection that might require medical attention and against severe outcomes; however, there is a paucity of evidence regarding the effectiveness of the BNT162b2 and CoronaVac vaccines and their booster regimens against asymptomatic or mild omicron infections in the community. We aimed to measure the effectiveness of BNT162b2 and CoronaVac vaccines against asymptomatic and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 omicron infections, during a period of omicron BA.2 predominance in Hong Kong. METHODS: In this prospective cohort study in a population that was generally infection-naive before the large omicron BA.2 wave between January and late May, 2022, we established a public health surveillance platform to monitor the evolving activity of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the community. We recruited a cohort of individuals aged 5 years and older between March 1 and March 7, 2022, from the general population. Individuals were enrolled from all 18 districts of Hong Kong, according to a predefined age-stratified quota, primarily by random digit dialing (generating suitable eight-digit local telephone numbers by randomly picking sets of the first four digits from a sampling frame, and randomly generating the last four digits), and supplemented by our existing cohorts (which included cohorts for studying influenza vaccination from school-based vaccination programmes and cohorts for SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence from the community), to ensure representativeness of the population in Hong Kong. Participants did weekly rapid antigen testing with a self-collected pooled nasal and throat swab, regardless of symptom and exposure status, from March 1 to April 15, 2022. Individuals reporting a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by laboratory PCR testing before enrolment were excluded from the vaccine effectiveness analysis to avoid potential bias due to infection-induced immunity. The primary outcomes of the study were the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including asymptomatic and symptomatic infections, and the vaccine effectiveness of BNT162b2 and CoronaVac vaccines. The effectiveness of one, two, and three doses of vaccination was estimated with a Cox proportional hazards regression model with time-dependent covariates, allowing for changes in vaccination status over time, after adjustment for demographic factors and pre-existing medical conditions. FINDINGS: Of the 8636 individuals included in the analysis, 7233 (84%) received at least two doses of vaccine, 3993 (46%) received booster doses, and 903 (10%) reported SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among these infections 589 (65·2%) were symptomatic and 314 (34·8%) were asymptomatic at the time of testing. Statistically significant protection against asymptomatic and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 omicron infection was found only for those who received a BNT162b2 or CoronaVac booster dose, with a vaccine effectiveness of 41·4% (23·2 to 55·2; p=0·0001) and 32·4% (9·0 to 49·8; p=0·0098), respectively. The vaccine effectiveness of BNT162b2 and CoronaVac boosters was further increased to 50·9% (95% CI 31·0-65·0; p<0·0001) and 41·6% (15·0-59·8; p=0·0049), respectively, for symptomatic omicron infections. A similar pattern of vaccine effectiveness (55·8%, 22·9-74·6; p=0·0040) was also conferred after receipt of a BNT162b2 booster by individuals who received a CoronaVac primary vaccination series. INTERPRETATION: Two doses of either vaccine did not provide significant protection against COVID-19 infection. However, receipt of a BNT162b2 booster or CoronaVac booster was associated with a significantly lower risk of omicron BA.2 infection and symptomatic infection. Our findings confirm the effectiveness of booster doses to protect against mild and asymptomatic infection. FUNDING: Henry Fok Foundation and Hong Kong Health Bureau.


Subject(s)
BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19 , Humans , COVID-19 Vaccines , SARS-CoV-2 , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Prospective Studies , Seroepidemiologic Studies , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Vaccination
7.
Lancet Infect Dis ; 23(6): 683-695, 2023 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2246376

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Viral rebound after nirmatrelvir-ritonavir treatment has implications for the clinical management and isolation of patients with COVID-19. We evaluated an unselected, population-wide cohort to identify the incidence of viral burden rebound and associated risk factors and clinical outcomes. METHODS: We did a retrospective cohort study of hospitalised patients with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, China, for an observation period from Feb 26 to July 3, 2022 (during the omicron BA.2.2 variant wave). Adult patients (age ≥18 years) admitted 3 days before or after a positive COVID-19 test were selected from medical records held by the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong. We included patients with non-oxygen-dependent COVID-19 at baseline receiving either molnupiravir (800 mg twice a day for 5 days), nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (nirmatrelvir 300 mg with ritonavir 100 mg twice a day for 5 days), or no oral antiviral treatment (control group). Viral burden rebound was defined as a reduction in cycle threshold (Ct) value (≥3) on quantitative RT-PCR test between two consecutive measurements, with such decrease sustained in an immediately subsequent Ct measurement (for those patients with ≥3 Ct measurements). Logistic regression models were used to identify prognostic factors for viral burden rebound, and to assess associations between viral burden rebound and a composite clinical outcome of mortality, intensive care unit admission, and invasive mechanical ventilation initiation, stratified by treatment group. FINDINGS: We included 4592 hospitalised patients with non-oxygen-dependent COVID-19 (1998 [43·5%] women and 2594 [56·5%] men). During the omicron BA.2.2 wave, viral burden rebound occurred in 16 of 242 patients (6·6% [95% CI 4·1-10·5]) receiving nirmatrelvir-ritonavir, 27 of 563 (4·8% [3·3-6·9]) receiving molnupiravir, and 170 of 3787 (4·5% [3·9-5·2]) in the control group. The incidence of viral burden rebound did not differ significantly across the three groups. Immunocompromised status was associated with increased odds of viral burden rebound, regardless of antiviral treatment (nirmatrelvir-ritonavir: odds ratio [OR] 7·37 [95% CI 2·56-21·26], p=0·0002; molnupiravir: 3·05 [1·28-7·25], p=0·012; control: 2·21 [1·50-3·27], p<0·0001). Among patients receiving nirmatrelvir-ritonavir, the odds of viral burden rebound were higher in those aged 18-65 years (vs >65 years; 3·09 [1·00-9·53], p=0·050), those with high comorbidity burden (score >6 on the Charlson Comorbidity Index; 6·02 [2·09-17·38], p=0·0009), and those concomitantly taking corticosteroids (7·51 [1·67-33·82], p=0·0086); whereas the odds were lower in those who were not fully vaccinated (0·16 [0·04-0·67], p=0·012). In patients receiving molnupiravir, those aged 18-65 years (2·68 [1·09-6·58], p=0·032) or on concomitant corticosteroids (3·11 [1·23-7·82], p=0·016) had increased odds of viral burden rebound. We found no association between viral burden rebound and occurrence of the composite clinical outcome from day 5 of follow-up (nirmatrelvir-ritonavir: adjusted OR 1·90 [0·48-7·59], p=0·36; molnupiravir: 1·05 [0·39-2·84], p=0·92; control: 1·27 [0·89-1·80], p=0·18). INTERPRETATION: Viral burden rebound rates are similar between patients with antiviral treatment and those without. Importantly, viral burden rebound was not associated with adverse clinical outcomes. FUNDING: Health and Medical Research Fund, Health Bureau, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China. TRANSLATION: For the Chinese translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents , COVID-19 , Adult , Male , Humans , Female , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , Viral Load
8.
J Infect Dis ; 2022 Sep 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2239972

ABSTRACT

We administered BNT162b2 as a third dose to 314 adults aged ≥30 years who had previously received two doses of inactivated vaccination. We collected blood samples before the third dose and again after one month and six months, and found robust antibody responses to the ancestral strain at six months after receipt of BNT162b2. Antibody responses to Omicron BA.2 by live virus neutralization were weaker after the third dose and had declined to a low level by six months.

10.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Jun 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2232402

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Limited data exist on antibody responses to mixed vaccination strategies involving inactivated COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in the context of emerging variants. METHODS: We conducted an open label trial of a third vaccine dose of an mRNA vaccine (BNT162b2, Fosun Pharma/BioNTech) in adults aged ≥30 years who had previously received two doses of inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. We collected blood samples before administering the third dose and 28 days later, and tested for antibodies to the ancestral virus using a binding assay (ELISA), a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT) and a live virus plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT). We also tested for antibodies against the Omicron variant using live-virus PRNT. RESULTS: In 315 participants, a third dose of BNT162b2 substantially increased antibody titers on each assay. Mean ELISA levels increased from an optical density (OD) of 0.3 to 2.2 (p < 0. 001), and mean sVNT levels increased from an inhibition of 17% to 96% (p < 0.001). In a random subset of 20 participants, the geometric mean PRNT50 titers rose very substantially by 45 fold from Day 0 to Day 28 against the ancestral virus (p < 0.001) and rose by 11 fold against the Omicron variant (p < 0.001). In daily monitoring, post-vaccination reactions subsided within 7 days for over 99% of participants. CONCLUSIONS: A third dose of COVID-19 vaccination with an mRNA vaccine substantially improved antibody levels against the ancestral virus and the Omicron variant with well-tolerated safety profile, in adults who had received two doses of inactivated vaccine 6 months earlier.

11.
Lancet ; 400(10359): 1213-1222, 2022 10 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2184592

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the real-world effectiveness of oral antivirals against the SARS-CoV-2 omicron (B.1.1.529) variant. We aimed to assess the clinical effectiveness of two oral antiviral drugs among community-dwelling COVID-19 outpatients in Hong Kong. METHODS: In this observational study, we used data from the Hong Kong Hospital Authority to identify an unselected, territory-wide cohort of non-hospitalised patients with an officially registered diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection between Feb 26 and June 26, 2022, during the period in which the omicron subvariant BA.2.2 was dominant in Hong Kong. We used a retrospective cohort design as primary analysis, and a case-control design as sensitivity analysis. We identified patients with COVID-19 who received either molnupiravir (800 mg twice daily for 5 days) or nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir (nirmatrelvir 300 mg and ritonavir 100 mg twice daily for 5 days, or nirmatrelvir 150 mg and ritonavir 100 mg if estimated glomerular filtration rate was 30-59 mL/min per 1·73 m2). Outpatient oral antiviral users were matched with controls using propensity score (1:10) according to age, sex, date of SARS-CoV-2 infection diagnosis, Charlson Comorbidity Index score, and vaccination status. Study outcomes were death, COVID-19-related hospitalisation, and in-hospital disease progression (in-hospital death, invasive mechanical ventilation, or intensive care unit admission). Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated by Cox regression for the primary analysis, and odds ratios in oral antiviral users compared with non-users by logistic regression for the sensitivity analysis. FINDINGS: Among 1 074 856 non-hospitalised patients with COVID-19, 5383 received molnupiravir and 6464 received nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir in the community setting. Patients were followed up for a median of 103 days in the molnupiravir group and 99 days in the nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir group. Compared with nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir users, those on molnupiravir were older (4758 [85·9%] vs 4418 [88.7%] aged >60 years) and less likely to have been fully vaccinated (1850 [33·4%] vs 800 [16·1%]). Molnupiravir use was associated with lower risks of death (HR 0·76 [95% CI 0·61-0·95]) and in-hospital disease progression (0·57 [0·43-0·76]) than non-use was, whereas risk of hospitalisation was similar in both groups (0·98 [0·89-1·06]). Nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir use was associated with lower risks of death (0·34 [0·22-0·52]), hospitalisation (0·76 [0·67-0·86]), and in-hospital disease progression (0·57 [0·38-0·87]) than non-use was. We consistently found reduced risks of mortality and hospitalisation associated with early oral antiviral use among older patients. The findings from the case-control analysis broadly supported those from the primary analysis. INTERPRETATION: During Hong Kong's wave of SARS-CoV-2 omicron subvariant BA.2.2, among non-hospitalised patients with COVID-19, early initiation of novel oral antivirals was associated with reduced risks of mortality and in-hospital disease progression. Nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir use was additionally associated with a reduced risk of hospitalisation. FUNDING: Health and Medical Research Fund, Health Bureau, Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China. TRANSLATION: For the Chinese translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Drug Treatment , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Cytidine/analogs & derivatives , Disease Progression , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Hospital Mortality , Hospitalization , Humans , Hydroxylamines , Independent Living , Retrospective Studies , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2
12.
Nat Med ; 29(2): 348-357, 2023 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2185966

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has demonstrated enhanced transmissibility and escape of vaccine-derived immunity. Although first-generation vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death, robust evidence on vaccine effectiveness (VE) against all Omicron infections, irrespective of symptoms, remains sparse. We used a community-wide serosurvey with 5,310 subjects to estimate how vaccination histories modulated risk of infection in infection-naive Hong Kong during a large wave of Omicron BA.2 epidemic in January-July 2022. We estimated that Omicron infected 45% (41-48%) of the local population. Three and four doses of BNT162b2 or CoronaVac were effective against Omicron infection 7 days after vaccination (VE of 48% (95% credible interval 34-64%) and 69% (46-98%) for three and four doses of BNT162b2, respectively; VE of 30% (1-66%) and 56% (6-97%) for three and four doses of CoronaVac, respectively). At 100 days after immunization, VE waned to 26% (7-41%) and 35% (10-71%) for three and four doses of BNT162b2, and to 6% (0-29%) and 11% (0-54%) for three and four doses of CoronaVac. The rapid waning of VE against infection conferred by first-generation vaccines and an increasingly complex viral evolutionary landscape highlight the necessity for rapidly deploying updated vaccines followed by vigilant monitoring of VE.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Humans , BNT162 Vaccine , Vaccine Efficacy , SARS-CoV-2
13.
Nat Med ; 29(3): 579-582, 2023 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2185965

ABSTRACT

We tracked the effective reproduction number (Rt) of the predominant severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant Omicron BF.7 in Beijing in November-December 2022 by fitting a transmission dynamic model parameterized with real-time mobility data to (i) the daily number of new symptomatic cases on 1-11 November (when China's zero-COVID interventions were still strictly enforced) and (ii) the proportion of individuals who participated in online polls on 10-22 December and self-reported to have been test-positive since 1 November. After China's announcement of 20 measures to transition from zero-COVID, we estimated that Rt increased to 3.44 (95% credible interval (CrI): 2.82-4.14) on 18 November and the infection incidence peaked on 11 December. We estimated that the cumulative infection attack rate (IAR; that is, proportion of the population infected since 1 November) in Beijing was 75.7% (95% CrI: 60.7-84.4) on 22 December 2022 and 92.3% (95% CrI: 91.4-93.1) on 31 January 2023. Surveillance programs should be rapidly set up to monitor the evolving epidemiology and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 across China.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Beijing/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , China/epidemiology , Policy
14.
Lancet Reg Health West Pac ; 33: 100678, 2023 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2165675

ABSTRACT

Background: On-arrival quarantine has been one of the primary measures to prevent the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into Hong Kong since the start of the pandemic. Most on-arrival quarantines have been done in hotels, with the duration of quarantine and testing frequency during quarantine modified over time along with other pandemic control measures. However, hotels are not designed with infection control in mind. We aimed to systematically study the potential risk of acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 infection among individuals undergoing hotel quarantine. Methods: We examined data on each laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case identified in on-arrival quarantine in a hotel in Hong Kong between 1 May 2020 and 31 January 2022. We sequenced the whole genomes of viruses from cases that overlapped with other confirmed cases in terms of the hotel of stay, date of arrival and date of testing positive. By combining multiple sources of evidence, we identify probable and plausible transmission events and calculate the overall risk of transmission. Findings: Among 221 imported cases that overlapped with other cases detected during hotel quarantine with available sequence data, phylogenomic analyses identified five probable and two plausible clusters of within-hotel transmission. Only two of these clusters were recognised at the time. Including other clusters reported in Hong Kong, we estimate that 8-11 per 1000 cases identified in hotel quarantine may be infected by another unlinked case during quarantine, or 2-3 per 100,000 overseas arrivals. Interpretation: We have identified additional undetected occurrences of COVID-19 transmission within hotel quarantine in Hong Kong. Although hotels provide suboptimal infection control as improvised quarantine facilities, the risk of contracting infection whilst in quarantine is low. However, these unlikely events could have high consequences by allowing the virus to spread into immunologically naïve communities. Additional vigilance should be taken in the absence of improved controls to identify such events. If on-arrival quarantine is expected to be used for a long time, quarantine facilities could be purpose-built to minimise the risk of transmission. Funding: Health and Medical Research Fund, Hong Kong.

15.
The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific ; 30:100645, 2023.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-2122682

ABSTRACT

Summary Background Hong Kong followed a strict COVID-19 elimination strategy in 2020. We estimated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic responses on all-cause and cause-specific hospitalizations and deaths in 2020. Methods Interrupted time-series analysis using negative binomial regression accounting for seasonality and long-term trend was used on weekly 2010–2020 data to estimate the change in hospitalization risk and excess mortality occurring both within and out of hospitals. Findings In 2020, as compared to a 2010–2019 baseline, we observed an overall reduction in all-cause hospitalizations, and a concurrent increase in deaths. The overall hospitalization reduction (per 100,000 population) was 4809 (95% CI: 4692, 4926) in 2020, with respiratory diseases (632, 95% CI: 607, 658) and cardiovascular diseases (275, 95% CI: 264, 286) contributing most. The overall excess mortality (per 100,000 population) was 25 (95% CI: 23, 27) in 2020, mostly among individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular diseases (12, 95% CI: 11, 13). A reduction in excess in-hospital mortality (−10 per 100,000, 95% CI: −12, −8) was accompanied by an increase in excess out-of-hospital mortality (32, 95% CI: 29, 34). Interpretation The COVID-19 pandemic might have caused indirect impact on population morbidity and mortality likely through changed healthcare seeking particularly in youngest and oldest individuals and those with cardiovascular diseases. Better healthcare planning is needed during public health emergencies with disruptions in healthcare services. Funding Health and Medical Research Fund, Collaborative Research Fund, AIR@InnoHK and RGC Senior Research Fellow Scheme, Hong Kong.

16.
Eur Respir Rev ; 31(165)2022 Sep 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2038627

ABSTRACT

The performance of gargling for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR testing has not been previously reviewed. This review systematically assessed the performance of saline and water gargling for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing in the settings of diagnosing and monitoring viral shedding.We included original studies comparing the performance of gargling and (oropharyngeal-)nasopharyngeal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing. Studies conducted in either suspected individuals or confirmed cases were included and analysed separately. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) were examined using random-effects models.Gargles achieved a high overall sensitivity (91%), specificity (97%), PPV (95%) and NPV (91%) for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing. Studies using saline gargle and water gargle have an overall sensitivity of 97% and 86%, respectively. The sensitivity values were largely maintained for saline and water gargling on stratified analysis, for both diagnosis (96% and 92%) and viral shedding monitoring (98% and 78%). A higher sensitivity was also reported by studies using sterile saline (100%), a smaller amount of gargling solution (92% versus 87%) and a longer gargling duration (95% versus 86%).Our results supported the use of gargling as a sampling approach for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing, which achieved a high sensitivity for both diagnosis and viral shedding monitoring purposes. Further investigation on the comparative performance of different gargling mediums is needed to draw a definitive conclusion.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity , Water
17.
Clin Infect Dis ; 75(1): e216-e223, 2022 08 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2017775

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Testing of an entire community has been used as an approach to control coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In Hong Kong, a universal community testing program (UCTP) was implemented at the fadeout phase of a community epidemic in July to September 2020. We described the utility of the UCTP in finding unrecognized infections and analyzed data from the UCTP and other sources to characterize transmission dynamics. METHODS: We described the characteristics of people participating in the UCTP and compared the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19 cases detected by the UCTP versus those detected by clinical diagnosis and public health surveillance (CDPHS). We developed a Bayesian model to estimate the age-specific incidence of infection and the proportion of cases detected by CDPHS. RESULTS: In total, 1.77 million people, 24% of the Hong Kong population, participated in the UCTP from 1 to 14 September 2020. The UCTP identified 32 new infections (1.8 per 100000 samples tested), consisting of 29% of all local cases reported during the two-week UCTP period. Compared with the CDPHS, the UCTP detected a higher proportion of sporadic cases (62% vs 27%, P<.01) and identified 6 (out of 18) additional clusters during that period. We estimated that 27% (95% credible interval: 22%, 34%) of all infections were detected by the CDPHS in the third wave. CONCLUSIONS: We reported empirical evidence of the utility of population-wide COVID-19 testing in detecting unrecognized infections and clusters. Around three quarters of infections have not been identified through existing surveillance approaches including contact tracing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Nucleic Acids , Bayes Theorem , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Testing , Cross-Sectional Studies , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
18.
Lancet Infect Dis ; 22(12): 1681-1693, 2022 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1996735

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Data on the effectiveness of oral antivirals in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 are urgently needed. This retrospective cohort study aimed to evaluate the clinical and virological outcomes associated with molnupiravir or nirmatrelvir-ritonavir use in hospitalised patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 during a pandemic wave dominated by the omicron BA.2 subvariant. METHODS: We analysed data from a territory-wide retrospective cohort of patients in Hong Kong who were hospitalised with a confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection between Feb 26 and April 26, 2022. Data were extracted from the Hospital Authority, the Department of Health, and the Hong Kong Death Registry. Patients were eligible for inclusion if their admission date was within 3 days before or after confirmation of their COVID-19 diagnosis. Those who were admitted to hospital more than 5 days after symptom onset, were younger than 18 years, had a history of oral antiviral use before admission, required supplemental oxygen on admission, had drug-related contraindications to nirmatrelvir-ritonavir use, or had severe renal or severe liver impairment were excluded. Patients who received the oral antivirals molnupiravir or nirmatrelvir-ritonavir were matched with controls using propensity-score matching in a ratio of 1:1. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality and secondary outcomes included a composite outcome of disease progression (all-cause mortality, initiation of invasive mechanical ventilation [IMV], intensive care unit [ICU] admission, or the need for oxygen therapy) and each of these individual disease progression outcomes, and time to reaching a low viral burden (RT-PCR cycle threshold value ≥30). For each event outcome, crude incidence rates were calculated and hazard ratios (HRs) estimated using Cox regression models. FINDINGS: We identified 40 776 patients hospitalised with SARS-CoV-2 infection during the study period, with a mean follow-up of 41·3 days (total 925 713 person-days). After exclusions and propensity-score matching, we included 1856 molnupiravir recipients and 1856 matched controls, and 890 nirmatrelvir-ritonavir recipients and 890 matched controls. A lower risk of all-cause mortality was observed in molnupiravir recipients (crude incidence rate per 10 000 person-days 19·98 events [95% CI 16·91-23·45]) versus matched controls (38·07 events [33·85-42·67]; HR 0·48 [95% CI 0·40-0·59], p<0·0001) and in nirmatrelvir-ritonavir recipients (10·28 events [7·03-14·51]) versus matched controls (26·47 events [21·34-32·46]; HR 0·34 [0·23-0·50], p<0·0001). Oral antiviral recipients also had lower risks of the composite disease progression outcome (molnupiravir HR 0·60 [95% CI 0·52-0·69], p<0·0001; nirmatrelvir-ritonavir 0·57 [0·45-0·72], p<0·0001) and need for oxygen therapy (molnupiravir 0·69 [0·57-0·83], p=0·0001; nirmatrelvir-ritonavir 0·73 [0·54-0·97], p=0·032) compared with controls. Time to achieving a low viral burden was significantly shorter among oral antiviral recipients than matched controls (molnupiravir HR 1·38 [95% CI 1·15-1·64], p=0·0005; nirmatrelvir-ritonavir 1·38 [1·07-1·79], p=0·013). Significant differences in initiation of IMV and ICU admission were not found. INTERPRETATION: During a wave of SARS-CoV-2 omicron BA.2, initiation of novel oral antiviral treatments in hospitalised patients not requiring oxygen therapy on admission showed substantial clinical benefit. Our findings support the early use of oral antivirals in this population of patients. FUNDING: Health and Medical Research Fund (Health Bureau, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region). TRANSLATION: For the Chinese translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Drug Treatment , Humans , Ritonavir/therapeutic use , SARS-CoV-2 , Retrospective Studies , COVID-19 Testing , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Disease Progression , Oxygen
19.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 28(9): 1856-1858, 2022 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1974605

ABSTRACT

Our analysis of data collected from multiple epidemics in Hong Kong indicated a shorter serial interval and generation time of infections with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant. The age-specific case-fatality risk for Omicron BA.2.2 case-patients without complete primary vaccination was comparable to that of persons infected with ancestral strains in earlier waves.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Humans
20.
Lancet Infect Dis ; 22(10): 1435-1443, 2022 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1937333

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Hong Kong maintained low circulation of SARS-CoV-2 until a major community epidemic of the omicron (B.1.1.529) sublineage BA.2 began in January, 2022. Both mRNA (BNT162b2 [Fosun Pharma-BioNTech]) and inactivated CoronaVac (Sinovac, Beijing, China) vaccines are widely available; however, vaccination coverage has been low, particularly in older adults aged 70 years or older. We aimed to assess vaccine effectiveness in this predominantly infection-naive population. METHODS: In this observational study, we used individual-level case data on mild or moderate, severe or fatal, and fatal disease in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 along with census information and coverage data of BNT162b2 and CoronaVac. We used a negative binomial model, adjusting for age, sex, and calendar day to estimate vaccine effectiveness of one, two, and three doses of both BNT162b2 and CoronaVac vaccines, and relative effectiveness by number of doses and vaccine type. FINDINGS: Between Dec 31, 2020, and March 16, 2022, 13·2 million vaccine doses were administered in Hong Kong's 7·4-million population. We analysed data from confirmed cases with mild or moderate (n=5566), severe or fatal (n=8875), and fatal (n=6866) COVID-19. Two doses of either vaccine protected against severe disease and death within 28 days of a positive test, with higher effectiveness among adults aged 60 years or older with BNT162b2 (vaccine effectiveness 89·3% [95% CI 86·6-91·6]) compared with CoronaVac (69·9% [64·4-74·6]). Three doses of either vaccine offered very high levels of protection against severe or fatal outcomes (97·9% [97·3-98·4]). INTERPRETATION: Third doses of either BNT162b2 or CoronaVac provide substantial additional protection against severe COVID-19 and should be prioritised, particularly in older adults older than 60 years and others in high-risk populations who received CoronaVac primary schedules. Longer follow-up is needed to assess duration of protection across different vaccine platforms and schedules. FUNDING: COVID-19 Vaccines Evaluation Program, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Aged , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/prevention & control , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccine Efficacy
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