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1.
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
2.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 May 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1927312

ABSTRACT

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.

3.
Commun Biol ; 5(1): 439, 2022 05 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1839575

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 variants shaped the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discourse around effective control measures. Evaluating the threat posed by a new variant is essential for adapting response efforts when community transmission is detected. In this study, we compare the dynamics of two variants, Alpha and Iota, by integrating genomic surveillance data to estimate the effective reproduction number (Rt) of the variants. We use Connecticut, United States, in which Alpha and Iota co-circulated in 2021. We find that the Rt of these variants were up to 50% larger than that of other variants. We then use phylogeography to show that while both variants were introduced into Connecticut at comparable frequencies, clades that resulted from introductions of Alpha were larger than those resulting from Iota introductions. By monitoring the dynamics of individual variants throughout our study period, we demonstrate the importance of routine surveillance in the response to COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Genomics , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , United States/epidemiology
4.
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
5.
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.

6.
Cell ; 184(26): 6229-6242.e18, 2021 12 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1520753

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern exhibit varying degrees of transmissibility and, in some cases, escape from acquired immunity. Much effort has been devoted to measuring these phenotypes, but understanding their impact on the course of the pandemic-especially that of immune escape-has remained a challenge. Here, we use a mathematical model to simulate the dynamics of wild-type and variant strains of SARS-CoV-2 in the context of vaccine rollout and nonpharmaceutical interventions. We show that variants with enhanced transmissibility frequently increase epidemic severity, whereas those with partial immune escape either fail to spread widely or primarily cause reinfections and breakthrough infections. However, when these phenotypes are combined, a variant can continue spreading even as immunity builds up in the population, limiting the impact of vaccination and exacerbating the epidemic. These findings help explain the trajectories of past and present SARS-CoV-2 variants and may inform variant assessment and response in the future.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , Immune Evasion , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Computer Simulation , Humans , Immunity , Models, Biological , Reinfection , Vaccination
8.
Cell ; 184(10): 2532-2534, 2021 05 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1229877

ABSTRACT

In this issue of Cell, Washington et al. and Alpert et al. demonstrate the value of genomic surveillance when studying the introduction of the B.1.1.7 variant to the US and illustrate the challenge that results from the lack of good sampling strategies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Diseases, Emerging/epidemiology , Epidemiological Monitoring , Metagenomics/methods , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19/virology , Communicable Diseases, Emerging/virology , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , United States/epidemiology
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