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Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22272462


The on-going SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has called for an urgent need for rapid and high-throughput methods for mass testing for early detection, prevention and surveillance of the disease. Here, we tested if targeted parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) quantification using high resolution Orbitrap instruments can provide the sensitivity and speed required for a high-throughput method that could be used for clinical diagnosis. Here we report a high-throughput and sensitive PRM-MS assay that enables absolute quantification of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid peptides with short turn-around times. Concatenated peptides (QconCAT) synthesized using isotopically labelled SARS-CoV-2 were used for absolute quantification. We developed a fast and high-throughput S-trap-based sample preparation method, which was then successfully utilized for testing 25 positive and 25 negative heat-inactivated nasopharyngeal swab samples for SARS-CoV-2 detection. The method was able to differentiate between negative and positive patients accurately within its limits of detection. Moreover, extrapolating from the QconCAT absolute quantification, our data show that patients with Ct values as low as 17.5 have NCAP protein amounts of around 7.5 pmol in swab samples. The present high-throughput method could potentially be utilized in specialized clinics as an alternative tool for detection of SARS-CoV-2.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22270799


IntroductionViral sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 has been used for outbreak investigation, but there is limited evidence supporting routine use for infection prevention and control (IPC) within hospital settings. MethodsWe conducted a prospective non-randomised trial of sequencing at 14 acute UK hospital trusts. Sites each had a 4-week baseline data-collection period, followed by intervention periods comprising 8 weeks of rapid (<48h) and 4 weeks of longer-turnaround (5-10 day) sequencing using a sequence reporting tool (SRT). Data were collected on all hospital onset COVID-19 infections (HOCIs; detected [≥]48h from admission). The impact of the sequencing intervention on IPC knowledge and actions, and on incidence of probable/definite hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) was evaluated. ResultsA total of 2170 HOCI cases were recorded from October 2020-April 2021, with sequence reports returned for 650/1320 (49.2%) during intervention phases. We did not detect a statistically significant change in weekly incidence of HAIs in longer-turnaround (IRR 1.60, 95%CI 0.85-3.01; P=0.14) or rapid (0.85, 0.48-1.50; P=0.54) intervention phases compared to baseline phase. However, IPC practice was changed in 7.8% and 7.4% of all HOCI cases in rapid and longer-turnaround phases, respectively, and 17.2% and 11.6% of cases where the report was returned. In a per-protocol sensitivity analysis there was an impact on IPC actions in 20.7% of HOCI cases when the SRT report was returned within 5 days. ConclusionWhile we did not demonstrate a direct impact of sequencing on the incidence of nosocomial transmission, our results suggest that sequencing can inform IPC response to HOCIs, particularly when returned within 5 days.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20242362


Healthcare workers (HCWs) are known to be at increased risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2, although whether these risks are equal across all roles is uncertain. Here we report a retrospective analysis of a large real-world dataset obtained from 10 March to 6 July 2020 in an NHS Foundation Trust in England with 17,126 employees. 3,338 HCWs underwent symptomatic PCR testing (14.4% positive, 2.8% of all staff) and 11,103 HCWs underwent serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 IgG (8.4% positive, 5.5% of all staff). Seropositivity was lower than other hospital settings in England but higher than community estimates. Increased test positivity rates were observed in HCWs from BAME backgrounds and residents in areas of higher social deprivation. A logistic regression model adjusting for these factors showed significant increases in the odds of testing positive in certain occupational groups, most notably domestic services staff, nurses and health-care assistants. PCR testing of symptomatic HCWs appeared to underestimate overall infection levels, probably due to asymptomatic seroconversion. Clinical outcomes were reassuring, with only a small minority of HCWs with COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation (2.3%) or ICU management (0.7%) and with no deaths. Despite a relatively low level of HCW infection compared to other UK cohorts, there were nevertheless important differences in test positivity rates between occupational groups, robust to adjustment for demographic factors such as ethnic background and social deprivation. Quantitative and qualitative studies are needed to better understand the factors contributing to this risk. Robust informatics solutions for HCW exposure data are essential to inform occupational monitoring.

Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-20100834


BackgroundRecent large national and international cohorts describe the baseline characteristics and outcome of hospitalised patients with COVID-19, however there is little granularity to these reports. We aimed to provide a detailed description of a UK COVID-19 cohort, focusing on clinical decisions and patient journeys. MethodsWe retrospectively analysed the management and 28-day outcomes of 316 consecutive adult patients with SARS-CoV-2 PCR-confirmed COVID-19 admitted to a large NHS Foundation Trust with a tertiary High Consequence Infectious Diseases centre in the North of England. FindingsMost patients were elderly (median age 75) with multiple comorbidities. One quarter were admitted from residential or nursing care. Symptoms were consistent with COVID-19, with cough, fever and/or breathlessness in 90.5% of patients. Two thirds of patients had severe disease on admission. Mortality was 81/291 (27.8%). Most deaths were anticipated; decisions to initiate respiratory support were individualised after consideration of patient wishes, premorbid frailty and comorbidities, with specialist palliative care input where appropriate. 22/291 (7.6%) patients were intubated and 11/22 (50%) survived beyond discharge. Multiple logistic regression identified age as the most significant risk factor for death (OR 1.09 [95% CI 1.06 - 1.12] per year increase, p < 0.001). InterpretationThese findings provide important clinical context to outcome data. Deaths were anticipated, occurring in patients with advance decisions on ceilings of treatment. Age was the most significant risk factor for death, confirming that demographic factors in the population are a major influence on hospital mortality rates. FundingFunding was not required.