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1.
Wellcome Open Res ; 6: 27, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1596525

ABSTRACT

Background: The natural history and transmission patterns of endemic human coronaviruses are of increased interest following the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Methods: In rural Kenya 483 individuals from 47 households were followed for six months (2009-10) with nasopharyngeal swabs collected twice weekly regardless of symptoms. A total of 16,918 swabs were tested for human coronavirus (hCoV) OC43, NL63 and 229E and other respiratory viruses using polymerase chain reaction. Results: From 346 (71.6%) household members, 629 hCoV infection episodes were defined, with 36.3% being symptomatic: varying by hCoV type and decreasing with age. Symptomatic episodes (aHR=0.6 (95% CI:0.5-0.8) or those with elevated peak viral load (medium aHR=0.4 (0.3-0.6); high aHR=0.31 (0.2-0.4)) had longer viral shedding compared to their respective counterparts. Homologous reinfections were observed in 99 (19.9%) of 497 first infections. School-age children (55%) were the most common index cases with those having medium (aOR=5.3 (2.3 - 12.0)) or high (8.1 (2.9 - 22.5)) peak viral load most often generating secondary cases. Conclusion: Household coronavirus infection was common, frequently asymptomatic and mostly introduced by school-age children. Secondary transmission was influenced by viral load of index cases. Homologous-type reinfection was common. These data may be insightful for SARS-CoV-2.

2.
Epidemics ; 37: 100526, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1556883

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 in the UK has been characterised by periods of exponential growth and decline, as different non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are brought into play. During the early uncontrolled phase of the outbreak (March 2020) there was a period of prolonged exponential growth with epidemiological observations such as hospitalisation doubling every 3-4 days. The enforcement of strict lockdown measures led to a noticeable decline in all epidemic quantities that slowed during the summer as control measures were relaxed. From August 2020, infections, hospitalisations and deaths began rising once more and various NPIs were applied locally throughout the UK in response. Controlling any rise in infection is a compromise between public health and societal costs, with more stringent NPIs reducing cases but damaging the economy and restricting freedoms. Typically, NPI imposition is made in response to the epidemiological state, are of indefinite length and are often imposed at short notice, greatly increasing the negative impact. An alternative approach is to consider planned, limited duration periods of strict NPIs aiming to purposefully reduce prevalence before such emergency NPIs are required. These "precautionary breaks" may offer a means of keeping control of the epidemic, while their fixed duration and the forewarning may limit their societal impact. Here, using simple analysis and age-structured models matched to the UK SARS-CoV-2 epidemic, we investigate the action of precautionary breaks. In particular we consider their impact on the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, as well as the total number of predicted hospitalisations and deaths caused by COVID-19 disease. We find that precautionary breaks provide the biggest gains when the growth rate is low, but offer a much needed brake on increasing infection when the growth rate is higher, potentially allowing other measures to regain control.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Prevalence , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2
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.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200282, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309698

ABSTRACT

Retrospective analyses of the non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) used to combat the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak have highlighted the potential of optimizing interventions. These optimal interventions allow policymakers to manage NPIs to minimize the epidemiological and human health impacts of both COVID-19 and the intervention itself. Here, we use a susceptible-infectious-recovered (SIR) mathematical model to explore the feasibility of optimizing the duration, magnitude and trigger point of five different NPI scenarios to minimize the peak prevalence or the attack rate of a simulated UK COVID-19 outbreak. An optimal parameter space to minimize the peak prevalence or the attack rate was identified for each intervention scenario, with each scenario differing with regard to how reductions to transmission were modelled. However, we show that these optimal interventions are fragile, sensitive to epidemiological uncertainty and prone to implementation error. We highlight the use of robust, but suboptimal interventions as an alternative, with these interventions capable of mitigating the peak prevalence or the attack rate over a broader, more achievable parameter space, but being less efficacious than theoretically optimal interventions. This work provides an illustrative example of the concept of intervention optimization across a range of different NPI strategies. 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 , Models, Theoretical , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , Public Policy , Retrospective Studies , Time Factors , United Kingdom/epidemiology
6.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200275, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309693

ABSTRACT

This study demonstrates that an adoption of a segmenting and shielding strategy could increase the scope to partially exit COVID-19 lockdown while limiting the risk of an overwhelming second wave of infection. We illustrate this using a mathematical model that segments the vulnerable population and their closest contacts, the 'shielders'. Effects of extending the duration of lockdown and faster or slower transition to post-lockdown conditions and, most importantly, the trade-off between increased protection of the vulnerable segment and fewer restrictions on the general population are explored. Our study shows that the most important determinants of outcome are: (i) post-lockdown transmission rates within the general and between the general and vulnerable segments; (ii) fractions of the population in the vulnerable and shielder segments; (iii) adherence to protective measures; and (iv) build-up of population immunity. Additionally, we found that effective measures in the shielder segment, e.g. intensive routine screening, allow further relaxations in the general population. We find that the outcome of any future policy is strongly influenced by the contact matrix between segments and the relationships between physical distancing measures and transmission rates. This strategy has potential applications for any infectious disease for which there are defined proportions of the population who cannot be treated or who are at risk of severe outcomes. 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 , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Communicable Disease Control/trends , Humans , Models, Theoretical , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , United Kingdom/epidemiology
7.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200274, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309692

ABSTRACT

The dynamics of immunity are crucial to understanding the long-term patterns of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Several cases of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 have been documented 48-142 days after the initial infection and immunity to seasonal circulating coronaviruses is estimated to be shorter than 1 year. Using an age-structured, deterministic model, we explore potential immunity dynamics using contact data from the UK population. In the scenario where immunity to SARS-CoV-2 lasts an average of three months for non-hospitalized individuals, a year for hospitalized individuals, and the effective reproduction number after lockdown ends is 1.2 (our worst-case scenario), we find that the secondary peak occurs in winter 2020 with a daily maximum of 387 000 infectious individuals and 125 000 daily new cases; threefold greater than in a scenario with permanent immunity. Our models suggest that longitudinal serological surveys to determine if immunity in the population is waning will be most informative when sampling takes place from the end of the lockdown in June until autumn 2020. After this period, the proportion of the population with antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 is expected to increase due to the secondary wave. Overall, our analysis presents considerations for policy makers on the longer-term dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK and suggests that strategies designed to achieve herd immunity may lead to repeated waves of infection as immunity to reinfection is not permanent. 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 , Communicable Disease Control/trends , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Basic Reproduction Number/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/virology , Humans , United Kingdom/epidemiology
8.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200273, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309691

ABSTRACT

Many countries have banned groups and gatherings as part of their response to the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Although there are outbreak reports involving mass gatherings, the contribution to overall transmission is unknown. We used data from a survey of social contact behaviour that specifically asked about contact with groups to estimate the population attributable fraction (PAF) due to groups as the relative change in the basic reproduction number when groups are prevented. Groups of 50+ individuals accounted for 0.5% of reported contact events, and we estimate that the PAF due to groups of 50+ people is 5.4% (95% confidence interval 1.4%, 11.5%). The PAF due to groups of 20+ people is 18.9% (12.7%, 25.7%) and the PAF due to groups of 10+ is 25.2% (19.4%, 31.4%). Under normal circumstances with pre-COVID-19 contact patterns, large groups of individuals have a relatively small epidemiological impact; small- and medium-sized groups between 10 and 50 people have a larger impact on an epidemic. 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 , Disease Outbreaks , Pandemics , Basic Reproduction Number/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Humans , Physical Distancing , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
9.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200270, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309689

ABSTRACT

Contact tracing is an important tool for allowing countries to ease lockdown policies introduced to combat SARS-CoV-2. For contact tracing to be effective, those with symptoms must self-report themselves while their contacts must self-isolate when asked. However, policies such as legal enforcement of self-isolation can create trade-offs by dissuading individuals from self-reporting. We use an existing branching process model to examine which aspects of contact tracing adherence should be prioritized. We consider an inverse relationship between self-isolation adherence and self-reporting engagement, assuming that increasingly strict self-isolation policies will result in fewer individuals self-reporting to the programme. We find that policies which increase the average duration of self-isolation, or that increase the probability that people self-isolate at all, at the expense of reduced self-reporting rate, will not decrease the risk of a large outbreak and may increase the risk, depending on the strength of the trade-off. These results suggest that policies to increase self-isolation adherence should be implemented carefully. Policies that increase self-isolation adherence at the cost of self-reporting rates should be avoided. 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 , Contact Tracing/statistics & numerical data , Models, Theoretical , Pandemics , Basic Reproduction Number/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Communicable Disease Control/statistics & numerical data , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
10.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200267, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309687

ABSTRACT

We explore strategies of contact tracing, case isolation and quarantine of exposed contacts to control the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic using a branching process model with household structure. This structure reflects higher transmission risks among household members than among non-household members. We explore strategic implementation choices that make use of household structure, and investigate strategies including two-step tracing, backwards tracing, smartphone tracing and tracing upon symptom report rather than test results. The primary model outcome is the effect of contact tracing, in combination with different levels of physical distancing, on the growth rate of the epidemic. Furthermore, we investigate epidemic extinction times to indicate the time period over which interventions must be sustained. We consider effects of non-uptake of isolation/quarantine, non-adherence, and declining recall of contacts over time. Our results find that, compared to self-isolation of cases without contact tracing, a contact tracing strategy designed to take advantage of household structure allows for some relaxation of physical distancing measures but cannot completely control the epidemic absent of other measures. Even assuming no imported cases and sustainment of moderate physical distancing, testing and tracing efforts, the time to bring the epidemic to extinction could be in the order of months to years. 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 , Models, Theoretical , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Contact Tracing/methods , Family Characteristics , Humans , Quarantine/methods
11.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 376(1829): 20200266, 2021 07 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309686

ABSTRACT

As several countries gradually release social distancing measures, rapid detection of new localized COVID-19 hotspots and subsequent intervention will be key to avoiding large-scale resurgence of transmission. We introduce ASMODEE (automatic selection of models and outlier detection for epidemics), a new tool for detecting sudden changes in COVID-19 incidence. Our approach relies on automatically selecting the best (fitting or predicting) model from a range of user-defined time series models, excluding the most recent data points, to characterize the main trend in an incidence. We then derive prediction intervals and classify data points outside this interval as outliers, which provides an objective criterion for identifying departures from previous trends. We also provide a method for selecting the optimal breakpoints, used to define how many recent data points are to be excluded from the trend fitting procedure. The analysis of simulated COVID-19 outbreaks suggests ASMODEE compares favourably with a state-of-art outbreak-detection algorithm while being simpler and more flexible. As such, our method could be of wider use for infectious disease surveillance. We illustrate ASMODEE using publicly available data of National Health Service (NHS) Pathways reporting potential COVID-19 cases in England at a fine spatial scale, showing that the method would have enabled the early detection of the flare-ups in Leicester and Blackburn with Darwen, two to three weeks before their respective lockdown. ASMODEE is implemented in the free R package trendbreaker. 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 , Models, Theoretical , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Algorithms , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Communicable Disease Control , England/epidemiology , Humans , United Kingdom/epidemiology
12.
Clin Infect Dis ; 72(8): 1463-1466, 2021 04 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1066275

ABSTRACT

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many key neglected tropical disease (NTD) activities have been postponed. This hindrance comes at a time when the NTDs are progressing towards their ambitious goals for 2030. Mathematical modelling on several NTDs, namely gambiense sleeping sickness, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH), trachoma, and visceral leishmaniasis, shows that the impact of this disruption will vary across the diseases. Programs face a risk of resurgence, which will be fastest in high-transmission areas. Furthermore, of the mass drug administration diseases, schistosomiasis, STH, and trachoma are likely to encounter faster resurgence. The case-finding diseases (gambiense sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniasis) are likely to have fewer cases being detected but may face an increasing underlying rate of new infections. However, once programs are able to resume, there are ways to mitigate the impact and accelerate progress towards the 2030 goals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Tropical Medicine , Humans , Neglected Diseases/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
13.
Lancet ; 396(10263): 1634-1635, 2020 11 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-936030
14.
Wellcome Open Res ; 5: 239, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-914801

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Contact tracing has the potential to control outbreaks without the need for stringent physical distancing policies, e.g. civil lockdowns. Unlike forward contact tracing, backward contact tracing identifies the source of newly detected cases. This approach is particularly valuable when there is high individual-level variation in the number of secondary transmissions (overdispersion). Methods: By using a simple branching process model, we explored the potential of combining backward contact tracing with more conventional forward contact tracing for control of COVID-19. We estimated the typical size of clusters that can be reached by backward tracing and simulated the incremental effectiveness of combining backward tracing with conventional forward tracing. Results: Across ranges of parameter values consistent with dynamics of SARS-CoV-2, backward tracing is expected to identify a primary case generating 3-10 times more infections than average, typically increasing the proportion of subsequent cases averted by a factor of 2-3. The estimated number of cases averted by backward tracing became greater with a higher degree of overdispersion. Conclusion: Backward contact tracing can be an effective tool for outbreak control, especially in the presence of overdispersion as was observed with SARS-CoV-2.

15.
Epidemics ; 32: 100395, 2020 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-245786

ABSTRACT

In this introduction to the Special Issue on methods for modelling of infectious disease epidemiology we provide a commentary and overview of the field. We suggest that the field has been through three revolutions that have focussed on specific methodological developments; disease dynamics and heterogeneity, advanced computing and inference, and complexity and application to the real-world. Infectious disease dynamics and heterogeneity dominated until the 1980s where the use of analytical models illustrated fundamental concepts such as herd immunity. The second revolution embraced the integration of data with models and the increased use of computing. From the turn of the century an emergence of novel datasets enabled improved modelling of real-world complexity. The emergence of more complex data that reflect the real-world heterogeneities in transmission resulted in the development of improved inference methods such as particle filtering. Each of these three revolutions have always kept the understanding of infectious disease spread as its motivation but have been developed through the use of new techniques, tools and the availability of data. We conclude by providing a commentary on what the next revoluition in infectious disease modelling may be.


Subject(s)
Communicable Diseases/epidemiology , Communicable Diseases/transmission , Models, Theoretical , Humans
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