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1.
Microb Genom ; 8(7)2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1961306

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand globally, with case numbers rising in many areas of the world, including the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Lebanon experienced its largest wave of COVID-19 infections from January to April 2021. Limited genomic surveillance was undertaken, with just 26 SARS-CoV-2 genomes available for this period, nine of which were from travellers from Lebanon detected by other countries. Additional genome sequencing is thus needed to allow surveillance of variants in circulation. In total, 905 SARS-CoV-2 genomes were sequenced using the ARTIC protocol. The genomes were derived from SARS-CoV-2-positive samples, selected retrospectively from the sentinel COVID-19 surveillance network, to capture diversity of location, sampling time, sex, nationality and age. Although 16 PANGO lineages were circulating in Lebanon in January 2021, by February there were just four, with the Alpha variant accounting for 97 % of samples. In the following 2 months, all samples contained the Alpha variant. However, this had changed dramatically by June and July 2021, when all samples belonged to the Delta variant. This study documents a ten-fold increase in the number of SARS-CoV-2 genomes available from Lebanon. The Alpha variant, first detected in the UK, rapidly swept through Lebanon, causing the country's largest wave to date, which peaked in January 2021. The Alpha variant was introduced to Lebanon multiple times despite travel restrictions, but the source of these introductions remains uncertain. The Delta variant was detected in Gambia in travellers from Lebanon in mid-May, suggesting community transmission in Lebanon several weeks before this variant was detected in the country. Prospective sequencing in June/July 2021 showed that the Delta variant had completely replaced the Alpha variant in under 6 weeks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Lebanon/epidemiology , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Prospective Studies , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
2.
Science ; 376(6600): eabq4411, 2022 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1861571

ABSTRACT

Rapid transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant has led to record-breaking incidence rates around the world. The Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has tracked SARS-CoV-2 infection in England using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results from self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly selected participants aged 5 years and older approximately monthly from May 2020 to March 2022. Weighted prevalence in March 2022 was the highest recorded in REACT-1 at 6.37% (N = 109,181), with the Omicron BA.2 variant largely replacing the BA.1 variant. Prevalence was increasing overall, with the greatest increase in those aged 65 to 74 years and 75 years and older. This was associated with increased hospitalizations and deaths, but at much lower levels than in previous waves against a backdrop of high levels of vaccination.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Epidemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , England/epidemiology , Humans , Incidence , Prevalence , RNA, Viral/analysis , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
3.
Science ; 375(6587): 1406-1411, 2022 03 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1673338

ABSTRACT

The unprecedented rise in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections during December 2021 was concurrent with rapid spread of the Omicron variant in England and globally. We analyzed the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and its dynamics in England from the end of November to mid-December 2021 among almost 100,000 participants in the REACT-1 study. Prevalence was high with rapid growth nationally and particularly in London during December 2021, with an increasing proportion of infections due to Omicron. We observed large decreases in swab positivity among mostly vaccinated older children (12 to 17 years) relative to unvaccinated younger children (5 to 11 years), and in adults who received a third (booster) vaccine dose versus two doses. Our results reinforce the importance of vaccination and booster campaigns, although additional measures have been needed to control the rapid growth of the Omicron variant.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , Child , Child, Preschool , England/epidemiology , Humans , Immunization, Secondary , Middle Aged , Prevalence
4.
Lancet Respir Med ; 10(4): 355-366, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1655306

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: England has experienced a third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic since the end of May, 2021, coinciding with the rapid spread of the delta (B.1.617.2) variant, despite high levels of vaccination among adults. Vaccination rates (single dose) in England are lower among children aged 16-17 years and 12-15 years, whose vaccination in England commenced in August and September, 2021, respectively. We aimed to analyse the underlying dynamics driving patterns in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence during September, 2021, in England. METHODS: The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study, which commenced data collection in May, 2020, involves a series of random cross-sectional surveys in the general population of England aged 5 years and older. Using RT-PCR swab positivity data from 100 527 participants with valid throat and nose swabs in round 14 of REACT-1 (Sept 9-27, 2021), we estimated community-based prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and vaccine effectiveness against infection by combining round 14 data with data from round 13 (June 24 to July 12, 2021; n=172 862). FINDINGS: During September, 2021, we estimated a mean RT-PCR positivity rate of 0·83% (95% CrI 0·76-0·89), with a reproduction number (R) overall of 1·03 (95% CrI 0·94-1·14). Among the 475 (62·2%) of 764 sequenced positive swabs, all were of the delta variant; 22 (4·63%; 95% CI 3·07-6·91) included the Tyr145His mutation in the spike protein associated with the AY.4 sublineage, and there was one Glu484Lys mutation. Age, region, key worker status, and household size jointly contributed to the risk of swab positivity. The highest weighted prevalence was observed among children aged 5-12 years, at 2·32% (95% CrI 1·96-2·73) and those aged 13-17 years, at 2·55% (2·11-3·08). The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic grew in those aged 5-11 years, with an R of 1·42 (95% CrI 1·18-1·68), but declined in those aged 18-54 years, with an R of 0·81 (0·68-0·97). At ages 18-64 years, the adjusted vaccine effectiveness against infection was 62·8% (95% CI 49·3-72·7) after two doses compared to unvaccinated people, for all vaccines combined, 44·8% (22·5-60·7) for the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 (Oxford-AstraZeneca) vaccine, and 71·3% (56·6-81·0) for the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine. In individuals aged 18 years and older, the weighted prevalence of swab positivity was 0·35% (95% CrI 0·31-0·40) if the second dose was administered up to 3 months before their swab but 0·55% (0·50-0·61) for those who received their second dose 3-6 months before their swab, compared to 1·76% (1·60-1·95) among unvaccinated individuals. INTERPRETATION: In September, 2021, at the start of the autumn school term in England, infections were increasing exponentially in children aged 5-17 years, at a time when vaccination rates were low in this age group. In adults, compared to those who received their second dose less than 3 months ago, the higher prevalence of swab positivity at 3-6 months following two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine suggests an increased risk of breakthrough infections during this period. The vaccination programme needs to reach children as well as unvaccinated and partially vaccinated adults to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission and associated disruptions to work and education. FUNDING: Department of Health and Social Care, England.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Child , Child, Preschool , Cross-Sectional Studies , England/epidemiology , Humans , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
5.
Microb Genom ; 7(11)2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1541626

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to expand globally, with case numbers rising in many areas of the world, including the Indian sub-continent. Pakistan has one of the world's largest populations, of over 200 million people and is experiencing a severe third wave of infections caused by SARS-CoV-2 that began in March 2021. In Pakistan, during the third wave until now only 12 SARS-CoV-2 genomes have been collected and among these nine are from Islamabad. This highlights the need for more genome sequencing to allow surveillance of variants in circulation. In fact, more genomes are available among travellers with a travel history from Pakistan, than from within the country itself. We thus aimed to provide a snapshot assessment of circulating lineages in Lahore and surrounding areas with a combined population of 11.1 million. Within a week of April 2021, 102 samples were sequenced. The samples were randomly collected from two hospitals with a diagnostic PCR cutoff value of less than 25 cycles. Analysis of the lineages shows that the Alpha variant of concern (first identified in the UK) dominates, accounting for 97.9 % (97/99) of cases, with the Beta variant of concern (first identified in South Africa) accounting for 2.0 % (2/99) of cases. No other lineages were observed. In depth analysis of the Alpha lineages indicated multiple separate introductions and subsequent establishment within the region. Eight samples were identical to genomes observed in Europe (seven UK, one Switzerland), indicating recent transmission. Genomes of other samples show evidence that these have evolved, indicating sustained transmission over a period of time either within Pakistan or other countries with low-density genome sequencing. Vaccines remain effective against Alpha, however, the low level of Beta against which some vaccines are less effective demonstrates the requirement for continued prospective genomic surveillance.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Female , Genome, Viral , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pakistan/epidemiology , Pandemics , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Young Adult
6.
Science ; 374(6574): eabl9551, 2021 Dec 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1494927

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections were rising during early summer 2021 in many countries as a result of the Delta variant. We assessed reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction swab positivity in the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission­1 (REACT-1) study in England. During June and July 2021, we observed sustained exponential growth with an average doubling time of 25 days, driven by complete replacement of the Alpha variant by Delta and by high prevalence at younger, less-vaccinated ages. Prevalence among unvaccinated people [1.21% (95% credible interval 1.03%, 1.41%)] was three times that among double-vaccinated people [0.40% (95% credible interval 0.34%, 0.48%)]. However, after adjusting for age and other variables, vaccine effectiveness for double-vaccinated people was estimated at between ~50% and ~60% during this period in England. Increased social mixing in the presence of Delta had the potential to generate sustained growth in infections, even at high levels of vaccination.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Adolescent , Adult , Age Factors , Aged , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , Child , Child, Preschool , England/epidemiology , Family Characteristics , Female , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Prevalence , Self Report , Socioeconomic Factors , Vaccination Coverage , Young Adult
7.
Science ; 374(6566): 423-431, 2021 Oct 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1483977

ABSTRACT

The progression of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic in Africa has so far been heterogeneous, and the full impact is not yet well understood. In this study, we describe the genomic epidemiology using a dataset of 8746 genomes from 33 African countries and two overseas territories. We show that the epidemics in most countries were initiated by importations predominantly from Europe, which diminished after the early introduction of international travel restrictions. As the pandemic progressed, ongoing transmission in many countries and increasing mobility led to the emergence and spread within the continent of many variants of concern and interest, such as B.1.351, B.1.525, A.23.1, and C.1.1. Although distorted by low sampling numbers and blind spots, the findings highlight that Africa must not be left behind in the global pandemic response, otherwise it could become a source for new variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Epidemiological Monitoring , Genomics , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Africa/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Genetic Variation , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
8.
Microb Genom ; 7(6)2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1349846

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread rapidly throughout the world. In the UK, the initial peak was in April 2020; in the county of Norfolk (UK) and surrounding areas, which has a stable, low-density population, over 3200 cases were reported between March and August 2020. As part of the activities of the national COVID-19 Genomics Consortium (COG-UK) we undertook whole genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 genomes present in positive clinical samples from the Norfolk region. These samples were collected by four major hospitals, multiple minor hospitals, care facilities and community organizations within Norfolk and surrounding areas. We combined clinical metadata with the sequencing data from regional SARS-CoV-2 genomes to understand the origins, genetic variation, transmission and expansion (spread) of the virus within the region and provide context nationally. Data were fed back into the national effort for pandemic management, whilst simultaneously being used to assist local outbreak analyses. Overall, 1565 positive samples (172 per 100 000 population) from 1376 cases were evaluated; for 140 cases between two and six samples were available providing longitudinal data. This represented 42.6 % of all positive samples identified by hospital testing in the region and encompassed those with clinical need, and health and care workers and their families. In total, 1035 cases had genome sequences of sufficient quality to provide phylogenetic lineages. These genomes belonged to 26 distinct global lineages, indicating that there were multiple separate introductions into the region. Furthermore, 100 genetically distinct UK lineages were detected demonstrating local evolution, at a rate of ~2 SNPs per month, and multiple co-occurring lineages as the pandemic progressed. Our analysis: identified a discrete sublineage associated with six care facilities; found no evidence of reinfection in longitudinal samples; ruled out a nosocomial outbreak; identified 16 lineages in key workers which were not in patients, indicating infection control measures were effective; and found the D614G spike protein mutation which is linked to increased transmissibility dominates the samples and rapidly confirmed relatedness of cases in an outbreak at a food processing facility. The large-scale genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2-positive samples has provided valuable additional data for public health epidemiology in the Norfolk region, and will continue to help identify and untangle hidden transmission chains as the pandemic evolves.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/pathology , Genome, Viral , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Cluster Analysis , Disease Outbreaks , Genetic Linkage , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , United Kingdom/epidemiology , Whole Genome Sequencing
9.
Genome Med ; 13(1): 21, 2021 02 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1076156

ABSTRACT

We present CoronaHiT, a platform and throughput flexible method for sequencing SARS-CoV-2 genomes (≤ 96 on MinION or > 96 on Illumina NextSeq) depending on changing requirements experienced during the pandemic. CoronaHiT uses transposase-based library preparation of ARTIC PCR products. Method performance was demonstrated by sequencing 2 plates containing 95 and 59 SARS-CoV-2 genomes on nanopore and Illumina platforms and comparing to the ARTIC LoCost nanopore method. Of the 154 samples sequenced using all 3 methods, ≥ 90% genome coverage was obtained for 64.3% using ARTIC LoCost, 71.4% using CoronaHiT-ONT and 76.6% using CoronaHiT-Illumina, with almost identical clustering on a maximum likelihood tree. This protocol will aid the rapid expansion of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing globally.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , Genome, Viral/genetics , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/virology , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing , Humans , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Whole Genome Sequencing
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