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1.
Wellcome Open Res ; 6: 224, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1780277

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Increased transmissibility of B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC) in the UK may explain its rapid emergence and global spread. We analysed data from putative household infector - infectee pairs in the Virus Watch Community cohort study to assess the serial interval of COVID-19 and whether this was affected by emergence of the B.1.1.7 variant. Methods: The Virus Watch study is an online, prospective, community cohort study following up entire households in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Putative household infector-infectee pairs were identified where more than one person in the household had a positive swab matched to an illness episode. Data on whether or not individual infections were caused by the B.1.1.7 variant were not available. We therefore developed a classification system based on the percentage of cases estimated to be due to B.1.1.7 in national surveillance data for different English regions and study weeks. Results: Out of 24,887 illnesses reported, 915 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 186 likely 'infector-infectee' pairs in 186 households amongst 372 individuals were identified. The mean COVID-19 serial interval was 3.18 (95%CI: 2.55 - 3.81) days. There was no significant difference (p=0.267) between the mean serial interval for VOC hotspots (mean = 3.64 days, (95%CI: 2.55 - 4.73)) days and non-VOC hotspots, (mean = 2.72 days, (95%CI: 1.48 - 3.96)). Conclusions: Our estimates of the average serial interval of COVID-19 are broadly similar to estimates from previous studies and we find no evidence that B.1.1.7 is associated with a change in serial intervals.  Alternative explanations such as increased viral load, longer period of viral shedding or improved receptor binding may instead explain the increased transmissibility and rapid spread and should undergo further investigation.

2.
EuropePMC;
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327349

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Seroprevalence studies can provide a measure of cumulative incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, but a better understanding of antibody dynamics following infection is needed to assess longevity of detectability. Infection is characterised by detection of spike (anti-S) and nucleocapsid (anti-N) antibodies, whereas vaccination only stimulates anti-S. Consequently, in the context of a highly vaccinated population, presence of anti-N can be used as a marker of previous infection but waning over time may limit its use. Methods: Adults aged 18 years and older, from households enrolled in the Virus Watch prospective community cohort study in England and Wales, provided monthly capillary blood samples which were tested for anti-S and anti-N. Participants self-reported vaccination dates and past medical history. Prior polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swabs were obtained through Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS) linkage data. Primary outcome variables were seropositivity (antibodies at or above the manufacturer's cut-off for positivity) and total anti-N and anti-S levels after PCR confirmed infection. Outcomes were analysed by days since infection, self-reported demographic and clinical factors. Results: A total of 13,802 eligible individuals, median age 63, provided 58,770 capillary blood samples. 537 of these had a prior positive PCR confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection 0-269 days before the antibody sample date. 432 out of the 537 (80.44%) were anti-N positive and detection remained stable through-out follow-up. Median anti-N levels peaked between days 90 and 119 post PCR results and then began to decline. Logistic regression models, both univariable and multivariable, only showed higher odds of positive anti-N result between 0-269 days for 35-49 year olds, compared to 18-34 year olds. There is evidence of anti-N waning from 120 days onwards, with earlier waning for females and younger age categories. Discussion: Approximately 4 in 5 participants with prior PCR-confirmed infection were anti-N positive, and this remained stable through follow-up for at least 269 days. However, median antibody levels began to decline from about 120 days post-infection. This suggests that anti-N have around 80% sensitivity for identifying previous COVID-19 infection and that this sensitivity is maintained through 269 days of follow up.

3.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-323962

ABSTRACT

Background: The unprecedented public health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated a rapid search for potential therapeutics, with some key successes. However, the potential impact of current and proposed treatments, and consequently research and procurement priorities, have not been clear. Methods: First, we used a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, COVID-19 disease and clinical care pathways to explore the potential impact of dexamethasone - the main treatment currently for hospitalised COVID-19 patients - under scenarios varying: i) healthcare capacity, ii) epidemic trajectories;and iii) the efficacy of dexamethasone in the absence of supportive care. We then fit the model to the observed epidemic trajectory to-date in 165 countries and analysed the potential future impact of dexamethasone in different countries, regions, and country-income strata. Finally, we constructed hypothetical profiles of novel therapeutics based on current trials, and compared the potential impact of each under different circumstances. In each case, the outcome of interest was the number of COVID-19 deaths averted in scenarios with the therapeutic compared to scenarios without. Findings: We find the potential benefit dexamethasone is severely limited in settings where healthcare capacity is lowest or where uncontrolled epidemics result in hospitals being overwhelmed. As such, it may avert 22% of deaths in high-income countries but only 8% in low-income countries (assuming R=1.35). However, therapeutics for different patient populations (in particular, those not in hospital and early in the course of infection) and types of benefit (in particular, reducing disease severity or infectiousness) could have much greater benefits. Such therapeutics would have particular value in resource-poor settings facing large epidemics, even if the efficacy or achievable coverage of such therapeutics is lower in comparison to other types. Interpretation: People in low-income countries will benefit the least from advances in the treatment of COVID-19 to date, which have focussed on hospitalised-patients with adequate access to supportive care. Therapeutics that can feasibly be delivered to those earlier in the course of infection that reduce the need for healthcare or reduce infectiousness could have much greater impact. Such therapeutics may be feasible and research into their efficacy and means of delivery should be a priority. Funding: None to declare. Declaration of Interest: None to declare.

4.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-310991

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Increased transmissibility of B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC) in the UK may explain its rapid emergence and global spread. We analysed data from putative household infector - infectee pairs in the Virus Watch Community cohort study to assess the serial interval of COVID-19 and whether this was affected by emergence of the B.1.1.7 variant. Methods: The Virus Watch study is an online, prospective, community cohort study following up entire households in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Putative household infector-infectee pairs were identified where more than one person in the household had a positive swab matched to an illness episode. Data on whether or not individual infections were caused by the B.1.1.7 variant were not available. We therefore developed a classification system based on the percentage of cases estimated to be due to B.1.1.7 in national surveillance data for different English regions and study weeks. Results: Out of 24,887 illnesses reported, 915 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 186 likely ‘infector-infectee’ pairs in 186 households amongst 372 individuals were identified. The mean COVID-19 serial interval was 3.18 (95%CI: 2.55 - 3.81) days. There was no significant difference (p=0.267) between the mean serial interval for VOC hotspots (mean = 3.64 days, (95%CI: 2.55 – 4.73)) days and non-VOC hotspots, (mean = 2.72 days, (95%CI: 1.48 – 3.96)). Conclusions: Our estimates of the average serial interval of COVID-19 are broadly similar to estimates from previous studies and we find no evidence that B.1.1.7 is associated with a change in serial intervals.  Alternative explanations such as increased viral load, longer period of viral shedding or improved receptor binding may instead explain the increased transmissibility and rapid spread and should undergo further investigation.

5.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-296012

ABSTRACT

Background Vaccination constitutes the best long-term solution against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Real-world immunogenicity data are sparse, particularly for ChAdOx1 and in populations with chronic conditions;and given the UK’s extended dosing interval, it is also important to understand antibody responses in SARS-CoV-2-naive individuals following a single dose. Methods Adults aged ≥18 years from households enrolled in Virus Watch, a prospective community cohort study in England and Wales, provided capillary blood samples and self-reported vaccination status. Primary outcome variables were quantitative Spike total antibody levels (U/ml) and seropositivity to Spike (≥0.8 U/ml), as per Roche’s Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 S assay. Samples seropositive for Nucleocapsid, and samples taken prior to vaccination, were excluded. Outcomes were analysed by days since vaccination, vaccine type (BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1), and a range of self-reported demographic and clinical factors. Results 8,837 vaccinated participants (median age 65 years [IQR: 58, 71]), contributed 17,160 samples (10,508 following ChAdOx1, 6,547 following BNT162b2). Seropositivity to Spike was 96.79% (95% CI 96.42, 97.12) from 28 days following a single dose, reaching 99.34% (98.91, 99.60) from 14 days after a second dose. Seropositivity rates, and Spike-antibody levels rose more quickly following the first dose of BNT162b2, however, were equivalent for both vaccines by 4 and 8 weeks, respectively. There was evidence for lower S-antibody levels with increasing age (p=0.0001). In partially vaccinated 65-79 year-olds, lower S-antibody levels were observed in men compared with women (26.50 vs 44.01 U/ml, p<0.0001), those with any chronic condition (33.8 vs 43.83 U/ml, p<0.0001), diabetes (22.46 vs 36.90 U/ml, p<0.0001), cardiovascular disease (32.9 vs 37.9 U/ml, p=0.0002), obesity (27.2 vs 37.42, p<0.0001), cancer diagnosis (31.39 vs 36.50 U/ml, p=0.0001), particularly those with haematological cancers (7.94 vs 32.50 U/ml, p<0.0001), and for those currently on statin therapy (30.03 vs 39.39, p<0.0001), or on any immunosuppressive therapy (28.7 vs 36.78 U/ml, p<0.0001), particularly those on oral steroids (16.8 vs 36.07, p<0.0001). Following a second dose, high S-antibody titres (≥250U/ml) were observed across all groups. Interpretation A single dose of either BNT162b2 or ChAdOx1 leads to high Spike seropositivity rates in SARS-CoV-2-naive individuals. Observed disparities in antibody levels by vaccine type, age, and comorbidities highlight the importance of ongoing non-pharmaceutical preventative measures for partially vaccinated adults, particularly those who are older and more clinically vulnerable;and high antibody levels across all groups following a second dose demonstrate the importance of complete vaccination. However, the relationship between Spike-antibody levels and protection against COVID-19, and thus the clinical significance of observed disparities, is not yet clear.

6.
J Epidemiol Community Health ; 76(4): 319-326, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1467721

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Differential exposure to public activities may contribute to stark deprivation-related inequalities in SARS-CoV-2 infection and outcomes but has not been directly investigated. We set out to investigate whether participants in Virus Watch-a large community cohort study based in England and Wales-reported differential exposure to public activities and non-household contacts during the autumn-winter phase of the COVID-19 pandemic according to postcode-level socioeconomic deprivation. METHODS: Participants (n=20 120-25 228 across surveys) reported their daily activities during 3 weekly periods in late November 2020, late December 2020 and mid-February 2021. Deprivation was quantified based on participants' residential postcode using English or Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles. We used Poisson mixed-effect models with robust standard errors to estimate the relationship between deprivation and risk of exposure to public activities during each survey period. RESULTS: Relative to participants in the least deprived areas, participants in the most deprived areas exhibited elevated risk of exposure to vehicle sharing (adjusted risk ratio (aRR) range across time points: 1.73-8.52), public transport (aRR: 3.13-5.73), work or education outside of the household (aRR: 1.09-1.21), essential shops (aRR: 1.09-1.13) and non-household contacts (aRR: 1.15-1.19) across multiple survey periods. CONCLUSION: Differential exposure to essential public activities-such as attending workplaces and visiting essential shops-is likely to contribute to inequalities in infection risk and outcomes. Public health interventions to reduce exposure during essential activities and financial and practical support to enable low-paid workers to stay at home during periods of intense transmission may reduce COVID-related inequalities.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cohort Studies , England/epidemiology , Health Status Disparities , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Wales/epidemiology
7.
Vaccine ; 39(48): 7108-7116, 2021 11 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1458555

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Vaccination intention is key to the success of any vaccination programme, alongside vaccine availability and access. Public intention to take a COVID-19 vaccine is high in England and Wales compared to other countries, but vaccination rate disparities between ethnic, social and age groups has led to concern. METHODS: Online survey of prospective household community cohort study participants across England and Wales (Virus Watch). Vaccination intention was measured by individual participant responses to 'Would you accept a COVID-19 vaccine if offered?', collected in December 2020 and February 2021. Responses to a 13-item questionnaire collected in January 2021 were analysed using factor analysis to investigate psychological influences on vaccination intention. RESULTS: Survey response rate was 56% (20,785/36,998) in December 2020 and 53% (20,590/38,727) in February 2021, with 14,880 adults reporting across both time points. In December 2020, 1,469 (10%) participants responded 'No' or 'Unsure'. Of these people, 1,266 (86%) changed their mind and responded 'Yes' or 'Already had a COVID-19 vaccine' by February 2021. Vaccination intention increased across all ethnic groups and levels of social deprivation. Age was most strongly associated with vaccination intention, with 16-24-year-olds more likely to respond "Unsure" or "No" versus "Yes" than 65-74-year-olds in December 2020 (OR: 4.63, 95 %CI: 3.42, 6.27 & OR 7.17 95 %CI: 4.26, 12.07 respectively) and February 2021 (OR: 27.92 95 %CI: 13.79, 56.51 & OR 17.16 95 %CI: 4.12, 71.55). The association between ethnicity and vaccination intention weakened, but did not disappear, over time. Both vaccine- and illness-related psychological factors were shown to influence vaccination intention. CONCLUSIONS: Four in five adults (86%) who were reluctant or intending to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020 had changed their mind in February 2021 and planned to accept, or had already accepted, a vaccine.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Adult , Cohort Studies , England , Humans , Intention , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination , Wales/epidemiology
8.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2021 Sep 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1434380

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The public health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated a rapid search for potential therapeutics, with some key successes. However, the potential impact of different treatments, and consequently research and procurement priorities, have not been clear. METHODS: Using a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, COVID-19 disease and clinical care, we explore the public-health impact of different potential therapeutics, under a range of scenarios varying healthcare capacity, epidemic trajectories; and drug efficacy in the absence of supportive care. RESULTS: The impact of drugs like dexamethasone (delivered to the most critically-ill in hospital and whose therapeutic benefit is expected to depend on the availability of supportive care such as oxygen and mechanical ventilation) is likely to be limited in settings where healthcare capacity is lowest or where uncontrolled epidemics result in hospitals being overwhelmed. As such, it may avert 22% of deaths in high-income countries but only 8% in low-income countries (assuming R=1.35). Therapeutics for different patient populations (those not in hospital, early in the course of infection) and types of benefit (reducing disease severity or infectiousness, preventing hospitalisation) could have much greater benefits, particularly in resource-poor settings facing large epidemics. CONCLUSIONS: Advances in the treatment of COVID-19 to date have been focussed on hospitalised-patients and predicated on an assumption of adequate access to supportive care. Therapeutics delivered earlier in the course of infection that reduce the need for healthcare or reduce infectiousness could have significant impact, and research into their efficacy and means of delivery should be a priority.

9.
BMJ Open ; 11(6): e048042, 2021 06 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1285085

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused significant global mortality and impacted lives around the world. Virus Watch aims to provide evidence on which public health approaches are most likely to be effective in reducing transmission and impact of the virus, and will investigate community incidence, symptom profiles and transmission of COVID-19 in relation to population movement and behaviours. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Virus Watch is a household community cohort study of acute respiratory infections in England and Wales and will run from June 2020 to August 2021. The study aims to recruit 50 000 people, including 12 500 from minority ethnic backgrounds, for an online survey cohort and monthly antibody testing using home fingerprick test kits. Nested within this larger study will be a subcohort of 10 000 individuals, including 3000 people from minority ethnic backgrounds. This cohort of 10 000 people will have full blood serology taken between October 2020 and January 2021 and repeat serology between May 2021 and August 2021. Participants will also post self-administered nasal swabs for PCR assays of SARS-CoV-2 and will follow one of three different PCR testing schedules based on symptoms. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has been approved by the Hampstead National Health Service (NHS) Health Research Authority Ethics Committee (ethics approval number 20/HRA/2320). We are monitoring participant queries and using these to refine methodology where necessary, and are providing summaries and policy briefings of our preliminary findings to inform public health action by working through our partnerships with our study advisory group, Public Health England, NHS and government scientific advisory panels.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Guideline Adherence/statistics & numerical data , Patient Acceptance of Health Care/statistics & numerical data , Public Health , COVID-19/epidemiology , England/epidemiology , Humans , Prospective Studies , Risk Factors , State Medicine , Wales/epidemiology
10.
Emerg Infect Dis ; 27(4): 1155-1158, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1140631

ABSTRACT

Prospective serosurveillance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in 1,069 healthcare workers in London, UK, demonstrated that nucleocapsid antibody titers were stable and sustained for <12 weeks in 312 seropositive participants. This finding was consistent across demographic and clinical variables and contrasts with reports of short-term antibody waning.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antibody Formation/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/immunology , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Adult , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19 Serological Testing/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , London/epidemiology , Male , Phosphoproteins/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Seroconversion , Seroepidemiologic Studies
11.
J Infect ; 81(3): 427-434, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-628179

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Significant nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been demonstrated. Understanding the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 carriage amongst HCWs at work is necessary to inform the development of HCW screening programmes to control nosocomial spread. METHODS: Cross-sectional 'snapshot' survey from April-May 2020; HCWs recruited from six UK hospitals. Participants self-completed a health questionnaire and underwent a combined viral nose and throat swab, tested by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 with viral culture on majority of positive samples. FINDINGS: Point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 carriage across the sites was 2.0% (23/1152 participants), median cycle threshold value 35.70 (IQR:32.42-37.57). 17 were previously symptomatic, two currently symptomatic (isolated anosmia and sore throat); the remainder declared no prior or current symptoms. Symptoms in the past month were associated with threefold increased odds of testing positive (aOR 3.46, 95%CI 1.38-8.67; p = 0.008). SARS-CoV-2 virus was isolated from only one (5%) of nineteen cultured samples. A large proportion (39%) of participants reported symptoms in the past month. INTERPRETATION: The point-prevalence is similar to previous estimates for HCWs in April 2020, though a magnitude higher than in the general population. Based upon interpretation of symptom history and testing results including viral culture, the majority of those testing positive were unlikely to be infectious at time of sampling. Development of screening programmes must balance the potential to identify additional cases based upon likely prevalence, expanding the symptoms list to encourage HCW testing, with resource implications and risks of excluding those unlikely to be infectious with positive tests. FUNDING: Public Health England.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Disease Transmission, Infectious/statistics & numerical data , Health Personnel/statistics & numerical data , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Adult , Aged , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Cross-Sectional Studies , England , Female , Humans , Male , Medical Staff, Hospital/statistics & numerical data , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Prospective Studies , RNA, Viral , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2 , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
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