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Med (N Y) ; 2022 Sep 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2031561


BACKGROUND: Universities are vulnerable to infectious disease outbreaks, making them ideal environments to study transmission dynamics and evaluate mitigation and surveillance measures. Here, we analyze multimodal COVID-19-associated data collected during the 2020-2021 academic year at Colorado Mesa University and introduce a SARS-CoV-2 surveillance and response framework. METHODS: We analyzed epidemiological and sociobehavioral data (demographics, contact tracing, and WiFi-based co-location data) alongside pathogen surveillance data (wastewater and diagnostic testing, and viral genomic sequencing of wastewater and clinical specimens) to characterize outbreak dynamics and inform policy. We applied relative risk, multiple linear regression, and social network assortativity to identify attributes or behaviors associated with contracting SARS-CoV-2. To characterize SARS-CoV-2 transmission, we used viral sequencing, phylogenomic tools, and functional assays. FINDINGS: Athletes, particularly those on high-contact teams, had the highest risk of testing positive. On average, individuals who tested positive had more contacts and longer interaction durations than individuals who never tested positive. The distribution of contacts per individual was overdispersed, although not as overdispersed as the distribution of phylogenomic descendants. Corroboration via technical replicates was essential for identification of wastewater mutations. CONCLUSIONS: Based on our findings, we formulate a framework that combines tools into an integrated disease surveillance program that can be implemented in other congregate settings with limited resources. FUNDING: This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Hertz Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Flu Lab, and the Audacious Project.

Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 May 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1927312


BACKGROUND: The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is highly transmissible in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. The dynamics governing its establishment and propensity towards fixation (reaching 100% frequency in the SARS-CoV-2 population) in communities remain unknown. In this work, we describe the dynamics of Omicron at three institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the greater Boston area. METHODS: We use diagnostic and variant-specifying molecular assays and epidemiological analytical approaches to describe the rapid dominance of Omicron following its introduction to three IHEs with asymptomatic surveillance programs. RESULTS: We show that the establishment of Omicron at IHEs precedes that of the state and region, and that the time to fixation is shorter at IHEs (9.5-12.5 days) than in the state (14.8 days) or region. We show that the trajectory of Omicron fixation among university employees resembles that of students, with a 2-3 day delay. Finally, we compare cycle threshold (Ct) values in Omicron vs. Delta variant cases on college campuses, and identify lower viral loads among college affiliates harboring Omicron infections. CONCLUSIONS: We document the rapid takeover of the Omicron variant at IHEs, reaching near-fixation within the span of 9.5-12.5 days despite lower viral loads, on average, than the previously dominant Delta variant. These findings highlight the transmissibility of Omicron, its propensity to rapidly dominate small populations, and the ability of robust asymptomatic surveillance programs to offer early insights into the dynamics of pathogen arrival and spread.

Nat Med ; 28(5): 1083-1094, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1671607


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated a clear need for high-throughput, multiplexed and sensitive assays for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and other respiratory viruses and their emerging variants. Here, we present a cost-effective virus and variant detection platform, called microfluidic Combinatorial Arrayed Reactions for Multiplexed Evaluation of Nucleic acids (mCARMEN), which combines CRISPR-based diagnostics and microfluidics with a streamlined workflow for clinical use. We developed the mCARMEN respiratory virus panel to test for up to 21 viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, other coronaviruses and both influenza strains, and demonstrated its diagnostic-grade performance on 525 patient specimens in an academic setting and 166 specimens in a clinical setting. We further developed an mCARMEN panel to enable the identification of 6 SARS-CoV-2 variant lineages, including Delta and Omicron, and evaluated it on 2,088 patient specimens with near-perfect concordance to sequencing-based variant classification. Lastly, we implemented a combined Cas13 and Cas12 approach that enables quantitative measurement of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A viral copies in samples. The mCARMEN platform enables high-throughput surveillance of multiple viruses and variants simultaneously, enabling rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Microfluidics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
Nat Commun ; 11(1): 5921, 2020 11 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-939436


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that new diagnostic technologies are essential for controlling disease transmission. Here, we develop SHINE (Streamlined Highlighting of Infections to Navigate Epidemics), a sensitive and specific diagnostic tool that can detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA from unextracted samples. We identify the optimal conditions to allow RPA-based amplification and Cas13-based detection to occur in a single step, simplifying assay preparation and reducing run-time. We improve HUDSON to rapidly inactivate viruses in nasopharyngeal swabs and saliva in 10 min. SHINE's results can be visualized with an in-tube fluorescent readout - reducing contamination risk as amplification reaction tubes remain sealed - and interpreted by a companion smartphone application. We validate SHINE on 50 nasopharyngeal patient samples, demonstrating 90% sensitivity and 100% specificity compared to RT-qPCR with a sample-to-answer time of 50 min. SHINE has the potential to be used outside of hospitals and clinical laboratories, greatly enhancing diagnostic capabilities.

Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , CRISPR-Associated Proteins/metabolism , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques/methods , Biological Assay , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Fluorescence , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS-CoV-2