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2.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326899

ABSTRACT

A new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, Omicron (B.1.1.529), has been identified based on genomic sequencing and epidemiological data in South Africa. Presumptive Omicron cases in South Africa have grown extremely rapidly, despite high prior exposure and moderate vaccination coverage. The available evidence suggests that Omicron spread is at least in part due to evasion of this immune protection, though Omicron may also exhibit higher intrinsic transmissibility. Using detailed laboratory and epidemiological data from South Africa, we estimate the constraints on these two characteristics of the new variant and their relationship. Our estimates and associated uncertainties provide essential information to inform projection and scenario modeling analyses, which are crucial planning tools for governments around the world.

3.
Embase;
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326897

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic in southern Africa has been characterised by three distinct waves. The first was associated with a mix of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, whilst the second and third waves were driven by the Beta and Delta variants respectively1–3. In November 2021, genomic surveillance teams in South Africa and Botswana detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant associated with a rapid resurgence of infections in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Within three days of the first genome being uploaded, it was designated a variant of concern (Omicron) by the World Health Organization and, within three weeks, had been identified in 87 countries. The Omicron variant is exceptional for carrying over 30 mutations in the spike glycoprotein, predicted to influence antibody neutralization and spike function4. Here, we describe the genomic profile and early transmission dynamics of Omicron, highlighting the rapid spread in regions with high levels of population immunity.

4.
PubMed; 2021.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-296601

ABSTRACT

Background: By August 2021, South Africa experienced three SARS-CoV-2 waves;the second and third associated with emergence of Beta and Delta variants respectively. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study during July 2020-August 2021 in one rural and one urban community. Mid-turbinate nasal swabs were collected twice-weekly from household members irrespective of symptoms and tested for SARS-CoV-2 using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR). Serum was collected every two months and tested for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Results: Among 115,759 nasal specimens from 1,200 members (follow-up rate 93%), 1976 (2%) were SARS-CoV-2-positive. By rRT-PCR and serology combined, 62% (749/1200) of individuals experienced >=1 SARS-CoV-2 infection episode, and 12% (87/749) experienced reinfection. Of 662 PCR-confirmed episodes with available data, 15% (n=97) were associated with >=1 symptom. Among 222 households, 200 (90%) had >=1 SARS-CoV-2-positive individual. Household cumulative infection risk (HCIR) was 25% (213/856). On multivariable analysis, accounting for age and sex, index case lower cycle threshold value (OR 3.9, 95%CI 1.7-8.8), urban community (OR 2.0,95%CI 1.1-3.9), Beta (OR 4.2, 95%CI 1.7-10.1) and Delta (OR 14.6, 95%CI 5.7-37.5) variant infection were associated with increased HCIR. HCIR was similar for symptomatic (21/110, 19%) and asymptomatic (195/775, 25%) index cases (p=0.165). Attack rates were highest in individuals aged 13-18 years and individuals in this age group were more likely to experience repeat infections and to acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection. People living with HIV who were not virally supressed were more likely to develop symptomatic illness, and shed SARS-CoV-2 for longer compared to HIV-uninfected individuals. Conclusions: In this study, 85% of SARS-CoV-2 infections were asymptomatic and index case symptom status did not affect HCIR, suggesting a limited role for control measures targeting symptomatic individuals. Increased household transmission of Beta and Delta variants, likely contributed to successive waves, with >60% of individuals infected by the end of follow-up. Research in context: Evidence before this study: Previous studies have generated wide-ranging estimates of the proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections which are asymptomatic. A recent systematic review found that 20% (95% CI 3%-67%) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections remained asymptomatic throughout infection and that transmission from asymptomatic individuals was reduced. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 87 household transmission studies of SARS-CoV-2 found an estimated secondary attack rate of 19% (95% CI 16-22). The review also found that household secondary attack rates were increased from symptomatic index cases and that adults were more likely to acquire infection. As of December 2021, South Africa experienced three waves of SARS-CoV-2 infections;the second and third waves were associated with circulation of Beta and Delta variants respectively. SARS-CoV-2 vaccines became available in February 2021, but uptake was low in study sites reaching 5% fully vaccinated at the end of follow up. Studies to quantify the burden of asymptomatic infections, symptomatic fraction, reinfection frequency, duration of shedding and household transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from asymptomatically infected individuals have mostly been conducted as part of outbreak investigations or in specific settings. Comprehensive systematic community studies of SARS-CoV-2 burden and transmission including for the Beta and Delta variants are lacking, especially in low vaccination settings. Added value of this study: We conducted a unique detailed COVID-19 household cohort study over a 13 month period in South Africa, with real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) testing twice a week irrespective of symptoms and bimonthly serology. By the end of the study in August 2021, 749 (62%) of 1200 individuals from 222 randomly sampled households in a rural and an urban community in South Africa had at least one confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, detected on rRT-PCR and/or serology, and 12% (87/749) experienced reinfection. Symptom data were analysed for 662 rRT-PCR-confirmed infection episodes that occurred >14 days after the start of follow-up (of a total of 718 rRT-PCR-confirmed episodes), of these, 15% (n=97) were associated with one or more symptoms. Among symptomatic indvidiausl, 9% (n=9) were hospitalised and 2% (n=2) died. Ninety percent (200/222) of included households, had one or more individual infected with SARS-CoV-2 on rRT-PCR and/or serology within the household. SARS-CoV-2 infected index cases transmitted the infection to 25% (213/856) of susceptible household contacts. Index case ribonucleic acid (RNA) viral load proxied by rRT-PCR cycle threshold value was strongly predictive of household transmission. Presence of symptoms in the index case was not associated with household transmission. Household transmission was four times greater from index cases infected with Beta variant and fifteen times greater from index cases infected with Delta variant compared to wild-type infection. Attack rates were highest in individuals aged 13-18 years and individuals in this age group were more likely to experience repeat infections and to acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection within households. People living with HIV (PLHIV) who were not virally supressed were more likely to develop symptomatic illness when infected with SARS-CoV-2, and shed SARS-CoV-2 for longer when compared to HIV-uninfected individuals. Implications of all the available evidence: We found a high rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection in households in a rural community and an urban community in South Africa, with the majority of infections being asymptomatic in individuals of all ages. Asymptomatic individuals transmitted SARS-CoV-2 at similar levels to symptomatic individuals suggesting that interventions targeting symptomatic individuals such as symptom-based testing and contact tracing of individuals tested because they report symptoms may have a limited impact as control measures. Increased household transmission of

5.
Eurosurveillance ; 26(29):10, 2021.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1341599

ABSTRACT

Background In South Africa, COVID-19 control measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 spread were initiated on 16 March 2020. Such measures may also impact the spread of other pathogens, including influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with implications for future annual epidemics and expectations for the subsequent northern hemisphere winter. Methods We assessed the detection of influenza and RSV through facility-based syndromic surveillance of adults and children with mild or severe respiratory illness in South Africa from January to October 2020, and compared this with surveillance data from 2013 to 2019. Results Facility-based surveillance revealed a decline in influenza virus detection during the regular season compared with previous years. This was observed throughout the implementation of COVID-19 control measures. RSV detection decreased soon after the most stringent COVID-19 control measures commenced;however, an increase in RSV detection was observed after the typical season, following the reopening of schools and the easing of measures. Conclusion COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions led to reduced circulation of influenza and RSV in South Africa. This has limited the country's ability to provide influenza virus strains for the selection of the annual influenza vaccine. Delayed increases in RSV case numbers may reflect the easing of COVID-19 control measures. An increase in influenza virus detection was not observed, suggesting that the measures may have impacted the two pathogens differently. The impact that lowered and/or delayed influenza and RSV circulation in 2020 will have on the intensity and severity of subsequent annual epidemics is unknown and warrants close monitoring.

6.
5th Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing Conference: Evolution Across All Dimensions, PEARC 2021 ; 2021.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-1341345

ABSTRACT

We describe the design motivation, architecture, deployment, and early operations of Expanse, a 5 Petaflop, heterogenous HPC system that entered production as an NSF-funded resource in December 2020 and will be operated on behalf of the national community for five years. Expanse will serve a broad range of computational science and engineering through a combination of standard batch-oriented services, and by extending the system to the broader CI ecosystem through science gateways, public cloud integration, support for high throughput computing, and composable systems. Expanse was procured, deployed, and put into production entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, adhering to stringent public health guidelines throughout. Nevertheless, the planned production date of October 1, 2020 slipped by only two months, thanks to thorough planning, a dedicated team of technical and administrative experts, collaborative vendor partnerships, and a commitment to getting an important national computing resource to the community at a time of great need. © 2021 Owner/Author.

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