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1.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-323456

ABSTRACT

Background: In England, the reopening of universities in September 2020 coincided with a rapid increase in SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in university aged young adults. This study aimed to estimate SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence in students attending universities that had experienced a COVID-19 outbreak after reopening for the autumn term in September 2020.Methods: A cross-sectional serosurvey was conducted during 02-11 December 2020 in students aged ≤ 25 years across five universities in England. Blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing were obtained using a self-sampling kit and analysed using the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 N antibody and/or an in-house receptor binding domain (RBD) assay. Findings: SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in 2,905 university students was 17.8% (95%CI, 16.5-19.3), ranging between 7.6%-29.7% across the five universities. Seropositivity was associated with being younger likely to represent first year undergraduates (aOR 3.2, 95% CI 2.0-4.9), living in halls of residence (aOR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7-2.7) and sharing a kitchen with an increasing number of students (shared with 4-7 individuals, aOR 1.43, 95%CI 1.12-1.82;shared with 8 or more individuals, aOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.04-2.24). Seropositivity was 49% in students living in halls of residence that reported high SARS-CoV-2 infection rates (>8%) during the autumn term.Interpretation: Despite large numbers of cases and outbreaks in universities, less than one in five students (17.8%) overall had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the end of the autumn term in England. In university halls of residence affected by a COVID-19 outbreak, however, nearly half the resident students became infected and developed SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

2.
Public Health ; 204: 21-24, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1586771

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Prisons are high-risk settings for infectious disease outbreaks because of their highly dynamic and crowded nature. During late 2020, prisons in England observed a surge in COVID-19 infection. This study describes the emergence of the Alpha variant in prisons during this period. METHODS: Alpha and non-Alpha variant COVID-19 cases were identified in prisoners in England using address-matched laboratory notifications and genomic information from COG-UK. RESULTS: Of 14,094 COVID-19-positive prisoner cases between 1 October 2020 and 28 March 2021, 11.5% (n = 1621) had sequencing results. Of these, 1082 (66.7%) were identified as the Alpha variant. Twenty-nine (2.7%) Alpha cases required hospitalisation compared with only five (1.0%; P = 0.02) non-Alpha cases. A total of 14 outbreaks were identified with the median attack rate higher for Alpha (17.9%, interquartile range [IQR] 3.2%-32.2%; P = 0.11) than non-Alpha outbreaks (3.5%, IQR 2.0%-10.2%). CONCLUSION: Higher attack rates and increased likelihood of hospitalisations were observed for Alpha cases compared with non-Alpha. This suggests a key contribution to the rise in cases, hospitalisations and outbreaks in prisons in the second wave. With prisons prone to COVID-19 outbreaks and the potential to act as reservoirs for variants of concern, sequencing of prison-associated cases alongside whole-institution vaccination should be prioritised.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Prisoners , COVID-19/epidemiology , England/epidemiology , Humans , Prisons , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
3.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 12: 100252, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1568914

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant (B.1.617.2), first detected in India, has rapidly become the dominant variant in England. Early reports suggest this variant has an increased growth rate suggesting increased transmissibility. This study indirectly assessed differences in transmissibility between the emergent Delta variant compared to the previously dominant Alpha variant (B.1.1.7). METHODS: A matched case-control study was conducted to estimate the odds of household transmission (≥ 2 cases within 14 days) for Delta variant index cases compared with Alpha cases. Cases were derived from national surveillance data (March to June 2021). One-to-two matching was undertaken on geographical location of residence, time period of testing and property type, and a multivariable conditional logistic regression model was used for analysis. FINDINGS: In total 5,976 genomically sequenced index cases in household clusters were matched to 11,952 sporadic index cases (single case within a household). 43.3% (n=2,586) of cases in household clusters were confirmed Delta variant compared to 40.4% (n= 4,824) of sporadic cases. The odds ratio of household transmission was 1.70 among Delta variant cases (95% CI 1.48-1.95, p <0.001) compared to Alpha cases after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, index of multiple deprivation (IMD), number of household contacts and vaccination status of index case. INTERPRETATION: We found evidence of increased household transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, potentially explaining its success at displacing Alpha variant as the dominant strain in England. With the Delta variant now having been detected in many countries worldwide, the understanding of the transmissibility of this variant is important for informing infection prevention and control policies internationally.

4.
Euro Surveill ; 26(27)2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1304572

ABSTRACT

We investigated a COVID-19 outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant of concern in a London care home, where 8/21 residents and 14/21 staff had received a single dose of Vaxzevria (ChAdOx1-S; AstraZeneca) vaccine. We identified 24 SARS-CoV-2 infections (16 residents, 8 staff) among 40 individuals (19 residents, 21 staff); four (3 residents, 1 staff) were hospitalised, and none died. The attack rate after one vaccine dose was 35.7% (5/14) for staff and 81.3% (13/16) for residents.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Vaccines , Disease Outbreaks , England , Humans , London/epidemiology , Vaccination
5.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 6: 100120, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1233524

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The full reopening of schools in September 2020 was associated with an increase in COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in educational settings across England. METHODS: Primary and secondary schools reporting an outbreak (≥2 laboratory-confirmed cases within 14 days) to Public Health England (PHE) between 31 August and 18 October 2020 were contacted in November 2020 to complete an online questionnaire. INTERPRETATION: There were 969 school outbreaks reported to PHE, comprising 2% (n = 450) of primary schools and 10% (n = 519) of secondary schools in England. Of the 369 geographically-representative schools contacted, 179 completed the questionnaire (100 primary schools, 79 secondary schools) and 2,314 cases were reported. Outbreaks were larger and across more year groups in secondary schools than in primary schools. Teaching staff were more likely to be the index case in primary (48/100, 48%) than secondary (25/79, 32%) school outbreaks (P = 0.027). When an outbreak occurred, attack rates were higher in staff (881/17,362; 5.07; 95%CI, 4.75-5.41) than students, especially primary school teaching staff (378/3852; 9.81%; 95%CI, 8.90-10.82%) compared to secondary school teaching staff (284/7146; 3.97%; 95%CI, 3.79-5.69%). Secondary school students (1105/91,919; 1.20%; 95%CI, 1.13-1.28%) had higher attack rates than primary school students (328/39,027; 0.84%; 95%CI, 0.75-0.94%). CONCLUSIONS: A higher proportion of secondary schools than primary schools reported a COVID-19 outbreak and experienced larger outbreaks across multiple school year groups. The higher attack rate among teaching staff during an outbreak, especially in primary schools, suggests that additional protective measures may be needed. FUNDING: PHE.

6.
J Infect ; 83(1): 104-111, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1210060

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In England, the reopening of universities in September 2020 coincided with a rapid increase in SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in university aged young adults. This study aimed to estimate SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence in students attending universities that had experienced a COVID-19 outbreak after reopening for the autumn term in September 2020. METHODS: A cross-sectional serosurvey was conducted during 02-11 December 2020 in students aged ≤ 25 years across five universities in England. Blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing were obtained using a self-sampling kit and analysed using the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 N antibody and/or an in-house receptor binding domain (RBD) assay. FINDINGS: SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in 2,905 university students was 17.8% (95%CI, 16.5-19.3), ranging between 7.6%-29.7% across the five universities. Seropositivity was associated with being younger likely to represent first year undergraduates (aOR 3.2, 95% CI 2.0-4.9), living in halls of residence (aOR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7-2.7) and sharing a kitchen with an increasing number of students (shared with 4-7 individuals, aOR 1.43, 95%CI 1.12-1.82; shared with 8 or more individuals, aOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.04-2.24). Seropositivity was 49% in students living in halls of residence that reported high SARS-CoV-2 infection rates (>8%) during the autumn term. INTERPRETATION: Despite large numbers of cases and outbreaks in universities, less than one in five students (17.8%) overall had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the end of the autumn term in England. In university halls of residence affected by a COVID-19 outbreak, however, nearly half the resident students became infected and developed SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Cross-Sectional Studies , England/epidemiology , Humans , Seroepidemiologic Studies , Students , Universities , Young Adult
7.
Lancet Reg Health Eur ; 3: 100038, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1192394

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Care homes have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We investigated the potential role of asymptomatic infection and silent transmission in London care homes that reported no cases of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic. METHODS: Five care homes with no cases and two care homes reporting a single case of COVID-19 (non-outbreak homes) were investigated with nasal swabbing for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and serology for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies five weeks later. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on RT-PCR positive samples. Serology results were compared with those of six care homes with recognised outbreaks. FINDINGS: Across seven non-outbreak homes, 718 (387 staff, 331 residents) individuals had a nasal swab and 651 (386 staff, 265 residents) had follow-up serology. Sixteen individuals (13 residents, 3 staff) in five care homes with no reported cases were RT-PCR positive (care home positivity rates, 0 to 7.6%) compared to 13 individuals (3.0 and 10.8% positivity) in two homes reporting a single case.Seropositivity across these seven homes varied between 10.7-56.5%, with four exceeding community seroprevalence in London (14.8%). Seropositivity rates for staff and residents correlated significantly (rs 0.84, [95% CI 0.51-0.95] p <0.001) across the 13 homes. WGS identified multiple introductions into some homes and silent transmission of a single lineage between staff and residents in one home. INTERPRETATION: We found high rates of asymptomatic infection and transmission even in care homes with no COVID-19 cases. The higher seropositivity rates compared to RT-PCR positivity highlights the true extent of the silent outbreak. FUNDING: PHE.

8.
Lancet ; 397(10283): 1459-1469, 2021 04 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1174548

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Increased understanding of whether individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from future SARS-CoV-2 infection is an urgent requirement. We aimed to investigate whether antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were associated with a decreased risk of symptomatic and asymptomatic reinfection. METHODS: A large, multicentre, prospective cohort study was done, with participants recruited from publicly funded hospitals in all regions of England. All health-care workers, support staff, and administrative staff working at hospitals who could remain engaged in follow-up for 12 months were eligible to join The SARS-CoV-2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation study. Participants were excluded if they had no PCR tests after enrolment, enrolled after Dec 31, 2020, or had insufficient PCR and antibody data for cohort assignment. Participants attended regular SARS-CoV-2 PCR and antibody testing (every 2-4 weeks) and completed questionnaires every 2 weeks on symptoms and exposures. At enrolment, participants were assigned to either the positive cohort (antibody positive, or previous positive PCR or antibody test) or negative cohort (antibody negative, no previous positive PCR or antibody test). The primary outcome was a reinfection in the positive cohort or a primary infection in the negative cohort, determined by PCR tests. Potential reinfections were clinically reviewed and classified according to case definitions (confirmed, probable, or possible) and symptom-status, depending on the hierarchy of evidence. Primary infections in the negative cohort were defined as a first positive PCR test and seroconversions were excluded when not associated with a positive PCR test. A proportional hazards frailty model using a Poisson distribution was used to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRR) to compare infection rates in the two cohorts. FINDINGS: From June 18, 2020, to Dec 31, 2020, 30 625 participants were enrolled into the study. 51 participants withdrew from the study, 4913 were excluded, and 25 661 participants (with linked data on antibody and PCR testing) were included in the analysis. Data were extracted from all sources on Feb 5, 2021, and include data up to and including Jan 11, 2021. 155 infections were detected in the baseline positive cohort of 8278 participants, collectively contributing 2 047 113 person-days of follow-up. This compares with 1704 new PCR positive infections in the negative cohort of 17 383 participants, contributing 2 971 436 person-days of follow-up. The incidence density was 7·6 reinfections per 100 000 person-days in the positive cohort, compared with 57·3 primary infections per 100 000 person-days in the negative cohort, between June, 2020, and January, 2021. The adjusted IRR was 0·159 for all reinfections (95% CI 0·13-0·19) compared with PCR-confirmed primary infections. The median interval between primary infection and reinfection was more than 200 days. INTERPRETATION: A previous history of SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with an 84% lower risk of infection, with median protective effect observed 7 months following primary infection. This time period is the minimum probable effect because seroconversions were not included. This study shows that previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 induces effective immunity to future infections in most individuals. FUNDING: Department of Health and Social Care of the UK Government, Public Health England, The National Institute for Health Research, with contributions from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , Health Personnel , Adult , Asymptomatic Infections , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , England , Female , Follow-Up Studies , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Prospective Studies , Reinfection , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2
9.
Age Ageing ; 50(3): 649-656, 2021 05 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1096485

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Previous investigations have identified high rates of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among residents and staff in care homes reporting an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We investigated care homes reporting a single suspected or confirmed case to assess whether early mass testing might reduce risk of transmission during the peak of the pandemic in London. METHODS: Between 18 and 27 April 2020, residents and staff in care homes reporting a single case of COVID-19 to Public Health England had a nasal swab to test for SARS-CoV-2 infection by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and subsequent whole-genome sequencing. Residents and staff in two care homes were re-tested 8 days later. RESULTS: Four care homes were investigated. SARS-CoV-2 positivity was 20% (65/333) overall, ranging between 3 and 59%. Among residents, positivity ranged between 3 and 76% compared with 3 and 40% in staff. Half of the SARS-CoV-2-positive residents (23/46, 50%) and 63% of staff (12/19) reported symptoms within 14 days before or after testing. Repeat testing 8 days later in two care homes with the highest infection rates identified only two new cases. Genomic analysis demonstrated a small number of introduction of the virus into care homes, and distinct clusters within three of the care homes. CONCLUSIONS: We found extensive but variable rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection among residents and staff in care homes reporting a single case of COVID-19. Although routine whole-home testing has now been adopted into practice, care homes must remain vigilant and should be encouraged to report a single suspected case, which should trigger appropriate outbreak control measures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , Mass Screening/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19 Testing , England , Female , Humans , Infection Control , London/epidemiology , Long-Term Care , Male , Pandemics , Policy , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Whole Genome Sequencing
12.
EClinicalMedicine ; 28: 100597, 2020 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-912161

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: We investigated six London care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and found high rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection among residents and staff. Here we report follow-up investigations including antibody testing in the same care homes five weeks later. METHODS: Residents and staff in the initial investigation had a repeat nasal swab for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and a blood test for SARS CoV-2 antibodies using ELISA based on SARS-CoV-2 native viral antigens derived from infected cells and virus neutralisation. FINDINGS: Of the 518 residents and staff in the initial investigation, 186/241 (77.2%) surviving residents and 208/254 (81.9%) staff underwent serological testing. Almost all SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive residents and staff were seropositive five weeks later, whether symptomatic (residents 35/35, 100%; staff, 22/22, 100%) or asymptomatic (residents 32/33, 97.0%; staff 21/22, 95.5%). Symptomatic but SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR negative residents and staff also had high seropositivity rates (residents 23/27, 85.2%; staff 18/21, 85.7%), as did asymptomatic RT-PCR negative individuals (residents 61/91, 67.0%; staff 95/143, 66.4%). Neutralising antibody was detected in 118/132 (89.4%) seropositive individuals and was not associated with age or symptoms. Ten residents (10/79 re-tested, 12.7%) remained RT-PCR positive but with higher RT-PCR cycle threshold values; 7/10 had serological testing and all were seropositive. New infections were detected in three residents and one staff. INTERPRETATION: RT-PCR provides a point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection but significantly underestimates total exposure in outbreak settings. In care homes experiencing large COVID-19 outbreaks, most residents and staff had neutralising SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which was not associated with age or symptoms. FUNDING: PHE.

13.
J Infect ; 81(4): 621-624, 2020 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-801950

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Care homes have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to suffer large outbreaks even when community infection rates are declining, thus representing important pockets of transmission. We assessed occupational risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection among staff in six care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak during the peak of the pandemic in London, England. METHODS: Care home staff were tested for SARS-COV-2 infection by RT-PCR and asked to report any symptoms, their contact with residents and if they worked in different care homes. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on RT-PCR positive samples. RESULTS: In total, 53 (21%) of 254 staff were SARS-CoV-2 positive but only 12/53 (23%) were symptomatic. Among staff working in a single care home, SARS-CoV-2 positivity was 15% (2/13), 16% (7/45) and 18% (30/169) in those reporting no, occasional and regular contact with residents. In contrast, staff working across different care homes (14/27, 52%) had a 3.0-fold (95% CI, 1.9-4.8; P<0.001) higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 positivity than staff working in single care homes (39/227, 17%). WGS identified SARS-CoV-2 clusters involving staff only, including some that included staff working across different care homes. CONCLUSIONS: SARS-CoV-2 positivity was significantly higher among staff working across different care homes than those who were working in the same care home. We found local clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infection between staff only, including those with minimal resident contact. Infection control should be extended for all contact, including those between staff, whilst on care home premises.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Homes for the Aged/statistics & numerical data , Medical Staff/statistics & numerical data , Nursing Homes/statistics & numerical data , Occupational Exposure/adverse effects , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , England/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Infection Control/methods , London/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , SARS-CoV-2 , Whole Genome Sequencing
14.
EClinicalMedicine ; 26: 100533, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-753678

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Care homes are experiencing large outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with high case-fatality rates. We conducted detailed investigations in six London care homes reporting suspected COVID-19 outbreaks during April 2020. METHODS: Residents and staff had nasal swabs for SARS CoV-2 testing using RT-PCR and were followed-up for 14 days. They were categorized as symptomatic, post-symptomatic or pre-symptomatic if they had symptoms at the time of testing, in the two weeks before or two weeks after testing, respectively, or asymptomatic throughout. Virus isolation and whole genome sequencing (WGS) was also performed. FINDINGS: Across the six care homes, 105/264 (39.8%) residents were SARS CoV-2 positive, including 28 (26.7%) symptomatic, 10 (9.5%) post-symptomatic, 21 (20.0%) pre-symptomatic and 46 (43.8%) who remained asymptomatic. Case-fatality at 14-day follow-up was highest among symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive residents (10/28, 35.7%) compared to asymptomatic (2/46, 4.3%), post-symptomatic (2/10, 20.0%) or pre-symptomatic (3/21,14.3%) residents. Among staff, 53/254 (20.9%) were SARS-CoV-2 positive and 26/53 (49.1%) remained asymptomatic. RT-PCR cycle-thresholds and live-virus recovery were similar between symptomatic/asymptomatic residents/staff. Higher RT-PCR cycle threshold values (lower virus load) samples were associated with exponentially decreasing ability to recover infectious virus (P<0.001). WGS identified multiple (up to 9) separate introductions of different SARS-CoV-2 strains into individual care homes. INTERPRETATION: A high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 positivity was found in care homes residents and staff, half of whom were asymptomatic and potential reservoirs for on-going transmission. A third of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 residents died within 14 days. Symptom-based screening alone is not sufficient for outbreak control. FUNDING: None.

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