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EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-322658

ABSTRACT

Background: Recently emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants have been associated with an increased rate of transmission within the community. Little is known about the impact their increased infectivity has on transmission within hospitals.Methods: We collected viral sequences and epidemiological data of patients with community and healthcare associated SARS-CoV-2 infections, sampled from 16th November 2020 to 10th January 2021, from nine hospitals participating in the COG-UK HOCI study. Outbreaks were identified using ward information, lineage and pairwise genetic differences between viral sequences.Findings: Mixed effects logistic regression analysis of 4184 sequences showed healthcare-acquired infections were no more likely to be identified as the Alpha variant than community acquired infections. Nosocomial outbreaks were investigated based on overlapping ward stay and SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence similarity. There was no significant difference in the number of patients involved in outbreaks caused by the Alpha variant compared to outbreaks caused by other lineages.Interpretation: Notwithstanding evidence from community studies that the Alpha variant is more transmissible, we find no evidence to support it causing more nosocomial transmission than previous lineages. This suggests that the stringent infection prevention measures already in place in UK hospitals contained the spread of the Alpha variant as effectively as other less transmissible lineages, providing reassurance of their efficacy against emerging variants of concern.Funding Information: COG-UK HOCI funded by COG-UK consortium. The COG-UK consortium is supported by funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and Genome Research Limited, operating as the Wellcome Sanger Institute.Declaration of Interests: None to declare. Ethics Approval Statement: Ethical approval for the HOCI study was provided by REC 20/EE/0118.

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