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1.
Lancet Microbe ; 3(10): e753-e761, 2022 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2004702

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Assessment of disease severity associated with a novel pathogen or variant provides crucial information needed by public health agencies and governments to develop appropriate responses. The SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant of concern (VOC) spread rapidly through populations worldwide before robust epidemiological and laboratory data were available to investigate its relative severity. Here we develop a set of methods that make use of non-linked, aggregate data to promptly estimate the severity of a novel variant, compare its characteristics with those of previous VOCs, and inform data-driven public health responses. METHODS: Using daily population-level surveillance data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa (March 2, 2020, to Jan 28, 2022), we determined lag intervals most consistent with time from case ascertainment to hospital admission and within-hospital death through optimisation of the distance correlation coefficient in a time series analysis. We then used these intervals to estimate and compare age-stratified case-hospitalisation and case-fatality ratios across the four epidemic waves that South Africa has faced, each dominated by a different variant. FINDINGS: A total of 3 569 621 cases, 494 186 hospitalisations, and 99 954 deaths attributable to COVID-19 were included in the analyses. We found that lag intervals and disease severity were dependent on age and variant. At an aggregate level, fluctuations in cases were generally followed by a similar trend in hospitalisations within 7 days and deaths within 15 days. We noted a marked reduction in disease severity throughout the omicron period relative to previous waves (age-standardised case-fatality ratios were consistently reduced by >50%), most substantial for age strata with individuals 50 years or older. INTERPRETATION: This population-level time series analysis method, which calculates an optimal lag interval that is then used to inform the numerator of severity metrics including the case-hospitalisation and case-fatality ratio, provides useful and timely estimates of the relative effects of novel SARS-CoV-2 VOCs, especially for application in settings where resources are limited. FUNDING: National Institute for Communicable Diseases of South Africa, South African National Government.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Diseases , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Diseases/epidemiology , Humans , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , South Africa/epidemiology , Time Factors
2.
J Infect Dis ; 226(10): 1704-1711, 2022 Nov 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2001321

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Throughout the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, healthcare workers (HCWs) have faced risk of infection from within the workplace via patients and staff as well as from the outside community, complicating our ability to resolve transmission chains in order to inform hospital infection control policy. Here we show how the incorporation of sequences from public genomic databases aided genomic surveillance early in the pandemic when circulating viral diversity was limited. METHODS: We sequenced a subset of discarded, diagnostic SARS-CoV-2 isolates between March and May 2020 from Boston Medical Center HCWs and combined this data set with publicly available sequences from the surrounding community deposited in GISAID with the goal of inferring specific transmission routes. RESULTS: Contextualizing our data with publicly available sequences reveals that 73% (95% confidence interval, 63%-84%) of coronavirus disease 2019 cases in HCWs are likely novel introductions rather than nosocomial spread. CONCLUSIONS: We argue that introductions of SARS-CoV-2 into the hospital environment are frequent and that expanding public genomic surveillance can better aid infection control when determining routes of transmission.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Pandemics/prevention & control , COVID-19/epidemiology , Infection Control , Health Personnel , Hospitals
3.
Cell ; 185(3): 485-492.e10, 2022 02 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1588148

ABSTRACT

An outbreak of over 1,000 COVID-19 cases in Provincetown, Massachusetts (MA), in July 2021-the first large outbreak mostly in vaccinated individuals in the US-prompted a comprehensive public health response, motivating changes to national masking recommendations and raising questions about infection and transmission among vaccinated individuals. To address these questions, we combined viral genomic and epidemiological data from 467 individuals, including 40% of outbreak-associated cases. The Delta variant accounted for 99% of cases in this dataset; it was introduced from at least 40 sources, but 83% of cases derived from a single source, likely through transmission across multiple settings over a short time rather than a single event. Genomic and epidemiological data supported multiple transmissions of Delta from and between fully vaccinated individuals. However, despite its magnitude, the outbreak had limited onward impact in MA and the US overall, likely due to high vaccination rates and a robust public health response.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/virology , Child , Child, Preschool , Contact Tracing/methods , Disease Outbreaks , Female , Genome, Viral , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Massachusetts/epidemiology , Middle Aged , Molecular Epidemiology , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Vaccination , Whole Genome Sequencing , Young Adult
4.
Open Forum Infect Dis ; 8(10): ofab465, 2021 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1526182

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine trials and post-implementation data suggest that vaccination decreases infections. We examine vaccination's impact on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) case rates and viral diversity among health care workers (HCWs) during a high community prevalence period. METHODS: In this prospective cohort study, HCW received 2 doses of BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273. We included confirmed cases among HCWs from 9 December 2020 to 23 February 2021. Weekly SARS-CoV-2 rates per 100,000 person-days and by time from first injection (1-14 and ≥15 days) were compared with surrounding community rates. Viral genomes were sequenced. RESULTS: SARS-CoV-2 cases occurred in 1.4% (96/7109) of HCWs given at least a first dose and 0.3% (17/5913) of HCWs given both vaccine doses. Adjusted rate ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 0.73 (.53-1.00) 1-14 days and 0.18 (.10-.32) ≥15 days from first dose. HCW ≥15 days from initial dose compared to 1-14 days were more often older (46 vs 38 years, P = .007), Latinx (10% vs 8%, P = .03), and asymptomatic (48% vs 11%, P = .0002). SARS-CoV-2 rates among HCWs fell below the surrounding community, an 18% vs 11% weekly decrease, respectively (P = .14). Comparison of 50 genomes from post-first dose cases did not indicate selection pressure toward known spike antibody escape mutations. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate an early positive impact of vaccines on SARS-CoV-2 case rates. Post-vaccination isolates did not show unusual genetic diversity or selection for mutations of concern.

5.
Cell Host Microbe ; 29(7): 1048-1051, 2021 07 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1309196

ABSTRACT

If enough individuals in a population are immune to a pathogen, it cannot cause an outbreak. Deliberately seeking such herd immunity through infection during a potentially lethal pandemic is contrary to all principles of public health, given the potential for uncontrolled outbreaks and risks to vulnerable populations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , Immunity, Herd , Pandemics , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Vaccines , Disease Outbreaks , Humans , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
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