Imperial College London

ProfessorHelenWard

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Professor of Public Health
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 3303h.ward Website

 
 
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Location

 

158Norfolk PlaceSt Mary's Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

361 results found

Chadeau-Hyam M, Tang D, Eales O, Bodinier B, Wang H, Jonnerby J, Whitaker M, Elliott J, Haw D, Walters CE, Atchison C, Diggle PJ, Page AJ, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Donnelly CA, Elliott Pet al., 2022, Omicron SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in England during February 2022: A series of cross-sectional community surveys, LANCET REGIONAL HEALTH-EUROPE, Vol: 21, ISSN: 2666-7762

Journal article

Eales O, Ainslie KEC, Walters CE, Wang H, Atchison C, Ashby D, Donnelly CA, Cooke G, Barclay W, Ward H, Darzi A, Elliott P, Riley Set al., 2022, Appropriately smoothing prevalence data to inform estimates of growth rate and reproduction number, Epidemics: the journal of infectious disease dynamics, Vol: 40, ISSN: 1755-4365

The time-varying reproduction number () can change rapidly over the course of a pandemic due to changing restrictions, behaviours, and levels of population immunity. Many methods exist that allow the estimation of from case data. However, these are not easily adapted to point prevalence data nor can they infer across periods of missing data. We developed a Bayesian P-spline model suitable for fitting to a wide range of epidemic time-series, including point-prevalence data. We demonstrate the utility of the model by fitting to periodic daily SARS-CoV-2 swab-positivity data in England from the first 7 rounds (May 2020–December 2020) of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study. Estimates of over the period of two subsequent rounds (6–8 weeks) and single rounds (2–3 weeks) inferred using the Bayesian P-spline model were broadly consistent with estimates from a simple exponential model, with overlapping credible intervals. However, there were sometimes substantial differences in point estimates. The Bayesian P-spline model was further able to infer changes in over shorter periods tracking a temporary increase above one during late-May 2020, a gradual increase in over the summer of 2020 as restrictions were eased, and a reduction in during England’s second national lockdown followed by an increase as the Alpha variant surged. The model is robust against both under-fitting and over-fitting and is able to interpolate between periods of available data; it is a particularly versatile model when growth rate can change over small timescales, as in the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This work highlights the importance of pairing robust methods with representative samples to track pandemics.

Journal article

Delisle TG, D'Souza N, Tan J, Najdawi A, Chen M, Ward H, Abulafi Met al., 2022, Introduction of an integrated primary care faecal immunochemical test referral pathway for patients with suspected colorectal cancer symptoms, COLORECTAL DISEASE, ISSN: 1462-8910

Journal article

Day S, Gleason K, Lury C, Di S, Viney W, Ward Het al., 2022, 'In the picture': perspectives on living and working with cancer, MEDICAL HUMANITIES, ISSN: 1468-215X

Journal article

Elliott P, Eales O, Bodinier B, Tang D, Wang H, Jonnerby LJA, Haw D, Elliott J, Whitaker M, Walters C, Atchison C, Diggle P, Page A, Trotter A, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Ward H, Darzi A, Cooke G, Chadeau M, Donnelly Cet al., 2022, Dynamics of a national Omicron SARS-CoV-2 epidemic during January 2022 in England, Nature Communications, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2041-1723

Rapid transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has led to record-breaking case incidence rates around the world. Since May 2020, the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study tracked the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection in England through RT-PCR of self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly-selected participants aged 5 years and over. In January 2022, we found an overall weighted prevalence of 4.41% (n=102,174), three-fold higher than in November to December 2021; we sequenced 2,374 (99.2%) Omicron infections (19 BA.2), and only 19 (0.79%) Delta, with a growth rate advantage for BA.2 compared to BA.1 or BA.1.1. Prevalence was decreasing overall (reproduction number R=0.95, 95% credible interval [CrI], 0.93, 0.97), but increasing in children aged 5 to 17 years (R=1.13, 95% CrI, 1.09, 1.18). In England during January 2022, we observed unprecedented levels of SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially among children, driven by almost complete replacement of Delta by Omicron.

Journal article

Atchison C, Moshe M, Brown J, Whitaker M, Wong N, Bharath A, Mckendry R, Darzi A, Ashby D, Donnelly C, Riley S, Elliott P, Barclay W, Cooke G, Ward Het al., 2022, Validity of self-testing at home with rapid SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection by lateral flow immunoassay, Clinical Infectious Diseases, ISSN: 1058-4838

Background: We explore severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibody lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) performance under field conditions compared to laboratory-based ELISA and live virus neutralisation. Methods: In July 2021, 3758 participants performed, at home, a self-administered LFIA on finger-prick blood, reported and submitted a photograph of the result, and provided a self-collected capillary blood sample for assessment of IgG antibodies using the Roche Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assay. We compared the self-reported LFIA result to the quantitative Roche assay and checked the reading of the LFIA result with an automated image analysis (ALFA). In a subsample of 250 participants, we compared the results to live virus neutralisation. Results: Almost all participants (3593/3758, 95.6%) had been vaccinated or reported prior infection. Overall, 2777/3758 (73.9%) were positive on self-reported LFIA, 2811/3457 (81.3%) positive by LFIA when ALFA-reported, and 3622/3758 (96.4%) positive on Roche (using the manufacturer reference standard threshold for positivity of 0.8 U ml−1). Live virus neutralisation was detected in 169 of 250 randomly selected samples (67.6%); 133/169 were positive with self-reported LFIA (sensitivity 78.7%; 95% CI 71.8, 84.6), 142/155 (91.6%; 86.1, 95.5) with ALFA, and 169 (100%; 97.8, 100.0) with Roche. There were 81 samples with no detectable virus neutralisation; 47/81 were negative with self-reported LFIA (specificity 58.0%; 95% CI 46.5, 68.9), 34/75 (45.3%; 33.8, 57.3) with ALFA, and 0/81 (0%; 0.0, 4.5) with Roche. Conclusions: Self-administered LFIA is less sensitive than a quantitative antibody test, but the positivity in LFIA correlates better than the quantitative ELISA with virus neutralisation.

Journal article

Eales O, Martins LDO, Page AJ, Wang H, Bodinier B, Tang D, Haw D, Jonnerby J, Atchison C, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Riley S, Elliott P, Donnelly CA, Chadeau-Hyam Met al., 2022, Dynamics of competing SARS-CoV-2 variants during the Omicron epidemic in England, Nature Communications, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2041-1723

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been characterised by the regular emergence of genomic variants. With natural and vaccine-induced population immunity at high levels, evolutionary pressure favours variants better able to evade SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies. The Omicron variant (first detected in November 2021) exhibited a high degree of immune evasion, leading to increased infection rates worldwide. However, estimates of the magnitude of this Omicron wave have often relied on routine testing data, which are prone to several biases. Using data from the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study, a series of cross-sectional surveys assessing prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in England, we estimated the dynamics of England’s Omicron wave (from 9 September 2021 to 1 March 2022). We estimate an initial peak in national Omicron prevalence of 6.89% (5.34%, 10.61%) during January 2022, followed by a resurgence in SARS-CoV-2 infections as the more transmissible Omicron sub-lineage, BA.2 replaced BA.1 and BA.1.1. Assuming the emergence of further distinct variants, intermittent epidemics of similar magnitudes may become the ‘new normal’.

Journal article

Atchison C, Moshe M, Brown J, Whitaker M, Wong N, Bharath A, McKendry R, Darzi A, Ashby D, Donnelly C, Riley S, Elliott P, Barclay W, Cooke G, Ward Het al., 2022, Validity of self-testing at home with rapid SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection by lateral flow immunoassay, Publisher: medRxiv

<h4>ABSTRACT</h4> <h4>Background</h4> Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibody lateral flow immunoassays (LFIA) can be carried out in the home and have been used as an affordable and practical approach to large-scale antibody prevalence studies. However, assay performance differs from that of high-throughput laboratory-based assays which can be highly sensitive. We explore LFIA performance under field conditions compared to laboratory-based ELISA and assess the potential of LFIAs to identify people who lack functional antibodies following infection or vaccination. <h4>Methods</h4> Field evaluation of a self-administered LFIA test (Fortress, NI) among 3758 participants from the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-2 (REACT-2) study in England selected based on vaccination history and previous LFIA result to ensure a range of antibody titres. In July 2021, participants performed, at home, a self-administered LFIA on finger-prick blood, reported and submitted a photograph of the result, and provided a self-collected capillary blood sample (Tasso-SST) for serological assessment of IgG antibodies to the spike protein using the Roche Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assay. We compared the self-administered and reported LFIA result to the quantitative Roche assay and checked the reading of the LFIA result with an automated image analysis (ALFA). In a subsample of 250 participants, we compared the results to live virus neutralisation. <h4>Results</h4> Almost all participants (3593/3758, 95.6%) had been vaccinated or reported prior infection, with most having received one (862, 22.9%) or two (2430, 64.7%) COVID-19 vaccine doses. Overall, 2777/3758 (73.9%) were positive on self-reported LFIA, 2811/3457 (81.3%) positive by LFIA when ALFA-reported, and 3622/3758 (96.4%) positive on Roche anti-S (using the manufacturer reference standard threshold for positivity of 0.8 U ml -1 ). Live virus neutra

Working paper

Eales O, Wang H, Bodinier B, Haw D, Jonnerby J, Atchison C, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Riley S, Chadeau M, Donnelly C, Elliott Pet al., 2022, SARS-CoV-2 lineage dynamics in England from September to November 2021: high diversity of Delta sub-lineages and increased transmissibility of AY.4.2, BMC Infectious Diseases, Vol: 22, ISSN: 1471-2334

Background: Since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, evolutionary pressure has driven large increases in the transmissibility of the virus. However, with increasing levels of immunity through vaccination and natural infection the evolutionary pressure will switch towards immune escape. Genomic surveillance in regions of high immunity is crucial in detecting emerging variants that can more successfully navigate the immune landscape. Methods: We present phylogenetic relationships and lineage dynamics within England (a country with high levels of immunity), as inferred from a random community sample of individuals who provided a self-administered throat and nose swab for rt-PCR testing as part of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study. During round 14 (9 September - 27 September 2021) and 15 (19 October - 5 November 2021) lineages were determined for 1322 positive individuals, with 27.1% of those which reported their symptom status reporting no symptoms in the previous month.Results: We identified 44 unique lineages, all of which were Delta or Delta sub-lineages, and found a reduction in their mutation rate over the study period. The proportion of the Delta sub-lineage AY.4.2 was increasing, with a reproduction number 15% (95% CI, 8%-23%) greater than the most prevalent lineage, AY.4. Further, AY.4.2 was less associated with the most predictive COVID-19 symptoms (p = 0.029) and had a reduced mutation rate (p = 0.050). Both AY.4.2 and AY.4 were found to be geographically clustered in September but this was no longer the case by late October/early November, with only the lineage AY.6 exhibiting clustering towards the South of England.Conclusions: As SARS-CoV-2 moves towards endemicity and new variants emerge, genomic data obtained from random community samples can augment routine surveillance data without the potential biases introduced due to higher sampling rates of symptomatic individuals.

Journal article

Eales O, de Oliveira Martins L, Page A, Wang H, Bodinier B, Tang D, Haw D, Jonnerby LJA, Atchison C, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Riley S, Elliott P, Donnelly C, Chadeau Met al., 2022, Dynamics and scale of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron epidemic in England, Nature Communications, ISSN: 2041-1723

Journal article

Wong N, Meshkinfamfard S, Turbé V, Whitaker M, Moshe M, Bardanzellu A, Dai T, Pignatelli E, Barclay W, Darzi A, Elliott P, Ward H, Tanaka R, Cooke G, McKendry R, Atchison C, Bharath Aet al., 2022, Machine learning to support visual auditing of home-based lateral flow immunoassay self-test results for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, Communications Medicine, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2730-664X

Lateral flow immunoassays (LFIAs) are being used worldwide for COVID-19 mass testing and antibody prevalence studies. Relatively simple to use and low cost, these tests can be self-administered at home but rely on subjective interpretation of a test line by eye, risking false positives and negatives. Here we report the development of ALFA (Automated Lateral Flow Analysis) to improve reported sensitivity and specificity. Our computational pipeline uses machine learning, computer vision techniques and signal processing algorithms to analyse images of the Fortress LFIA SARS-CoV-2 antibody self-test, and subsequently classify results as invalid, IgG negative and IgG positive. A large image library of 595,339 participant-submitted test photographs was created as part of the REACT-2 community SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence study in England, UK. Automated analysis showed substantial agreement with human experts (Kappa 0.90-0.97) and performed consistently better than study participants, particularly for weak positive IgG results. Specificity (98.7-99.4%) and sensitivity (90.1-97.1%) were high compared with visual interpretation by human experts (ranges due to the varying prevalence of weak positive IgG tests in datasets). Alongside ALFA, we developed an analysis toolkit which could also detect device blood leakage issues. Given the potential for LFIAs to be used at scale in the COVID-19 response (for both antibody and antigen testing), even a small improvement in the accuracy of the algorithms could impact the lives of millions of people by reducing the risk of false positive and false negative result read-outs by members of the public. Our findings support the use of machine learning-enabled automated reading of at-home antibody lateral flow tests, to be a tool for improved accuracy for population-level community surveillance.

Journal article

Chadeau M, Tang D, Eales O, Bodinier B, Wang H, Jonnerby LJA, Whitaker M, Elliott J, Haw D, Walters C, Atchison C, Diggle P, Page A, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Donnelly C, Elliott Pet al., 2022, Cross-sectional community surveys to monitor the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in England during February 2022, The Lancet Regional Health Europe, ISSN: 2666-7762

Background: The Omicron wave of COVID-19 in England peaked in January 2022 resulting from the rapid transmission of the Omicron BA.1 variant. We investigate the spread and dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in the population of England during February 2022, by region, age and main SARS-CoV-2 sub-lineage.Methods: In the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study we obtained data from a random sample of 94,950 participants with valid throat and nose swab results by RT-PCR during round 18 (8 February to 1 March 2022).Findings: We estimated a weighted mean SARS-CoV-2 prevalence of 2.88% (95% credible interval [CrI] 2.76–3.00), with a within-round effective reproduction number (R) overall of 0.94 (0·91–0.96). While within-round weighted prevalence fell among children (aged 5 to 17 years) and adults aged 18 to 54 years, we observed a level or increasing weighted prevalence among those aged 55 years and older with an R of 1.04 (1.00–1.09). Among 1,616 positive samples with sublineages determined, one (0.1% [0.0–0.3]) corresponded to XE BA.1/BA.2 recombinant and the remainder were Omicron: N=1,047, 64.8% (62.4–67.2) were BA.1; N=568, 35.2% (32.8–37.6) were BA.2. We estimated an R additive advantage for BA.2 (vs BA.1) of 0.38 (0.34–0.41). The highest proportion of BA.2 among positives was found in London. Interpretation: In February 2022, infection prevalence in England remained high with level or increasing rates of infection in older people and an uptick in hospitalisations. Ongoing surveillance of both survey and hospitalisations data is required.Funding Department of Health and Social Care, England.

Journal article

Eales O, Wang H, Haw D, Ainslie KEC, Walters CE, Atchison C, Cooke G, Barclay W, Ward H, Darzi A, Ashby D, Donnelly CA, Elliott P, Riley Set al., 2022, Trends in SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence during England’s roadmap out of lockdown, January to July 2021

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:sec><jats:title>Background</jats:title><jats:p>Following rapidly rising COVID-19 case numbers, England entered a national lockdown on 6 January 2021, with staged relaxations of restrictions from 8 March 2021 onwards.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Aim</jats:title><jats:p>We characterise how the lockdown and subsequent easing of restrictions affected trends in SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Methods</jats:title><jats:p>On average, risk of infection is proportional to infection prevalence. The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study is a repeat cross-sectional study of over 98,000 people every round (rounds approximately monthly) that estimates infection prevalence in England. We used Bayesian P-splines to estimate prevalence and the time-varying reproduction number (<jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub>) nationally, regionally and by age group from round 8 (beginning 6 January 2021) to round 13 (ending 12 July 2021) of REACT-1. As a comparator, a separate segmented-exponential model was used to quantify the impact on <jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub> of each relaxation of restrictions.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Results</jats:title><jats:p>Following an initial plateau of 1.54% until mid-January, infection prevalence decreased until 13 May when it reached a minimum of 0.09%, before increasing until the end of the study to 0.76%. Following the first easing of restrictions, which included schools reopening, the reproduction number <jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub> incre

Journal article

Papageorgiou V, Davies B, Cooper E, Singer A, Ward Het al., 2022, Influence of material deprivation on clinical outcomes among people living with HIV in high-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis, AIDS and Behavior, Vol: 26, Pages: 2026-2054, ISSN: 1090-7165

Despite developments in HIV treatment and care, disparities persist with some not fully benefiting from improvements in the HIV care continuum. We conducted a systematic review to explore associations between social determinants and HIV treatment outcomes (viral suppression and treatment adherence) in high-income countries. A random effects meta-analysis was performed where there were consistent measurements of exposures. We identified 83 observational studies eligible for inclusion. Social determinants linked to material deprivation were identified as education, employment, food security, housing, income, poverty/deprivation, socioeconomic status/position, and social class; however, their measurement and definition varied across studies. Our review suggests a social gradient of health persists in the HIV care continuum; people living with HIV who reported material deprivation were less likely to be virologically suppressed or adherent to antiretrovirals. Future research should use an ecosocial approach to explore these interactions across the lifecourse to help propose a causal pathway.

Journal article

Chadeau M, Eales O, Bodinier B, Wang H, Haw D, Whitaker M, Elliott J, Walters C, Jonnerby LJA, Atchison C, Diggle P, Page A, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Donnelly C, Elliott Pet al., 2022, Breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections in double and triple vaccinated adults and single dose vaccine effectiveness among children in Autumn 2021 in England: REACT-1 study, EClinicalMedicine, Vol: 48, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2589-5370

Background: Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection with Delta variant was increasing in England in late summer 2021 among children aged 5 to 17 years, and adults who had received two vaccine doses. In September 2021, a third (booster) dose was offered to vaccinated adults aged 50 years and over, vulnerable adults and healthcare/care-home workers, and a single vaccine dose already offered to 16 and 17 year-olds was extended to children aged 12 to 15 years. Methods: SARS-CoV-2 community prevalence in England was available from self-administered throat and nose swabs using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in round 13 (24 June to 12 July 2021, N= 98,233), round 14 (9 to 27 September 2021, N = 100,527) and round 15 (19 October to 5 November 2021, N = 100,112) from the REACT-1 study randomised community surveys. Linking to National Health Service (NHS) vaccination data for consenting participants, we estimated vaccine effectiveness in children aged 12 to 17 years and compared swab-positivity rates in adults who received a third dose with those who received two doses. Findings: Weighted SARS-CoV-2 prevalence was 1.57% (1.48%, 1.66%) in round 15 compared with 0.83% (0.76%, 0.89%) in round 14, and the previously observed link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths had weakened. Vaccine effectiveness against infection in children aged 12 to 17 years was estimated (round 15) at 64.0% (50.9%, 70.6%) and 67.7% (53.8%, 77.5%) for symptomatic infections. Adults who received a third vaccine dose were less likely to test positive compared to those who received two doses, with adjusted odds ratio of 0.36 (0.25, 0.53). Interpretation: Vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 years and third (booster) doses in adults were effective at reducing infection risk. High rates of vaccination, including booster doses, are a key part of the strategy to reduce infection rates in the community.

Journal article

Cann A, Clarke C, Brown J, Thomson T, Prendecki M, Moshe M, Badhan A, Simmons B, Klaber B, Elliott P, Darzi A, Riley S, Ashby D, Martin P, Gleeson S, Willicombe M, Kelleher P, Ward H, Barclay WS, Cooke GSet al., 2022, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibody lateral flow assay for antibody prevalence studies following vaccination: a diagnostic accuracy study [version 2; peer review: 2 approved], Wellcome Open Research, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2398-502X

Background: Lateral flow immunoassays (LFIAs) are able to achieve affordable, large scale antibody testing and provide rapid results without the support of central laboratories. As part of the development of the REACT programme extensive evaluation of LFIA performance was undertaken with individuals following natural infection. Here we assess the performance of the selected LFIA to detect antibody responses in individuals who have received at least one dose of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine. Methods: This was a prospective diagnostic accuracy study. Sampling was carried out at renal outpatient clinic and healthcare worker testing sites at Imperial College London NHS Trust. Two cohorts of patients were recruited; the first was a cohort of 108 renal transplant patients attending clinic following two doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, the second cohort comprised 40 healthcare workers attending for first SARS-CoV-2 vaccination and subsequent follow up. During the participants visit, finger-prick blood samples were analysed on LFIA device, while paired venous sampling was sent for serological assessment of antibodies to the spike protein (anti-S) antibodies. Anti-S IgG was detected using the Abbott Architect SARS-CoV-2 IgG Quant II CMIA. A total of 186 paired samples were collected. The accuracy of Fortress LFIA in detecting IgG antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 compared to anti-spike protein detection on Abbott Assay Results: The LFIA had an estimated sensitivity of 92.0% (114/124; 95% confidence interval [CI] 85.7% to 96.1%) and specificity of 93.6% (58/62; 95% CI 84.3% to 98.2%) using the Abbott assay as reference standard (using the threshold for positivity of 7.10 BAU/ml) Conclusions: Fortress LFIA performs well in the detection of antibody responses for intended purpose of population level surveillance but does not meet criteria for individual testing.

Journal article

Whitaker M, Elliott J, Bodinier B, Barclay W, Ward H, Cooke G, Donnelly CA, Chadeau-Hyam M, Elliott Pet al., 2022, Variant-specific symptoms of COVID-19 among 1,542,510 people in England

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus is associated with a wide range of symptoms. The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission -1 (REACT-1) study has been monitoring the spread and clinical manifestation of SARS-CoV-2 among random samples of the population in England from 1 May 2020 to 31 March 2022. We show changing symptom profiles associated with the different variants over that period, with lower reporting of loss of sense of smell and taste for Omicron compared to previous variants, and higher reporting of cold-like and influenza-like symptoms, controlling for vaccination status. Contrary to the perception that recent variants have become successively milder, Omicron BA.2 was associated with reporting more symptoms, with greater disruption to daily activities, than BA.1. With restrictions lifted and routine testing limited in many countries, monitoring the changing symptom profiles associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and induced changes in daily activities will become increasingly important.</jats:p>

Journal article

Whitaker M, Elliott J, Chadeau M, Riley S, Darzi A, Cooke G, Ward H, Elliott Pet al., 2022, Persistent COVID-19 symptoms in a community study of 606,434 people in England, Nature Communications, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2041-1723

Long COVID remains a broadly defined syndrome, with estimates of prevalence and duration varying widely. We use data from rounds 3–5 of the REACT-2 study (n=508,707; September 2020 – February 2021), a representative community survey of adults in England, and replication data from round 6 (n=97,717; May 2021) to estimate the prevalence and identify predictors of persistent symptoms lasting 12 weeks or more; and unsupervised learning to cluster individuals by reported symptoms. At 12 weeks in rounds 3–5, 37.7% experienced at least one symptom, falling to 21.6% in round 6. Female sex, increasing age, obesity, smoking, vaping, hospitalisation with COVID-19, deprivation, and being a healthcare worker are associated with higher probability of persistent symptoms in rounds 3–5, and Asian ethnicity with lower probability. Clustering analysis identifies a subset of participants with predominantly respiratory symptoms. Managing the long-term sequelae of COVID-19 will remain a major challenge for affected individuals and their families and for health services.

Journal article

Lound A, Bruton P, Jones K, Brett S, Gross J, Williams B, Shah N, Ward Het al., 2022, Exploring decision making regarding future care planning with older people living with frailty: Prospective Planning for Escalation of Care and Treatment (ProsPECT), RCN International Nursing Research Conference 2022

Conference paper

Elliott P, Eales O, Steyn N, Tang D, Bodinier B, Wang H, Elliott J, Whitaker M, Atchison C, Diggle P, Trotter A, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Ward H, Darzi A, Cooke G, Donnelly C, Chadeau-Hyam Met al., 2022, Twin peaks: the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 BA.1 and BA.2 epidemics in England

BACKGROUNDRapid transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has led to record-breaking incidencerates around the world. Sub-lineages have been detected in many countries with BA.1replacing Delta and BA.2 replacing BA.1.METHODSThe REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has trackedSARS-CoV-2 infection in England using RT-PCR results from self-administered throat and noseswabs from randomly-selected participants aged 5+ years. Rounds of data collection wereapproximately monthly from May 2020 to March 2022.RESULTSIn March 2022, weighted prevalence was 6.37% (N=109,181), more than twice that inFebruary 2022 following an initial Omicron peak in January 2022. Of the lineagesdetermined by viral genome sequencing, 3,382 (99.97%) were Omicron, including 346(10.2%) BA.1, 3035 (89.7%) BA.2 and one (0.03%) BA.3 sub-lineage; the remainder (1, 0.03%)was Delta AY.4. The BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage had a growth rate advantage (compared toBA.1 and sub-lineages) of 0.11 (95% credible interval [CrI], 0.10, 0.11). Prevalence wasincreasing overall (reproduction number R=1.07, 95% CrI, 1.06, 1.09), with the greatestincrease in those aged 55+ years (R=1.12, 95% CrI, 1.09, 1.14) among whom estimatedprevalence on March 31, 2022 was 8.31%, nearly 20-fold the median prevalence since May1, 2020.CONCLUSIONSWe observed unprecedented levels of SARS-CoV-2 infection in England in March 2022 and analmost complete replacement of Omicron BA.1 by BA.2. The high and increasing prevalencein older adults may increase hospitalizations and deaths despite high levels of vaccination.(Funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in England.)

Journal article

Eales O, de Oliveira Martins L, Page AJ, Wang H, Bodinier B, Tang D, Haw D, Jonnerby J, Atchison C, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Riley S, Elliott P, Donnelly CA, Chadeau-Hyam Met al., 2022, The new normal? Dynamics and scale of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron epidemic in England

<jats:title>Summary</jats:title><jats:p>The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been characterised by the regular emergence of genomic variants which have led to substantial changes in the epidemiology of the virus. With natural and vaccine-induced population immunity at high levels, evolutionary pressure favours variants better able to evade SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies. The Omicron variant was first detected in late November 2021 and exhibited a high degree of immune evasion, leading to increased infection rates in many countries. However, estimates of the magnitude of the Omicron wave have relied mainly on routine testing data, which are prone to several biases. Here we infer the dynamics of the Omicron wave in England using PCR testing and genomic sequencing obtained by the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study, a series of cross-sectional surveys testing random samples of the population of England. We estimate an initial peak in national Omicron prevalence of 6.89% (5.34%, 10.61%) during January 2022, followed by a resurgence in SARS-CoV-2 infections in England during February-March 2022 as the more transmissible Omicron sub-lineage, BA.2 replaced BA.1 and BA.1.1. Assuming the emergence of further distinct genomic variants, intermittent epidemics of similar magnitude as the Omicron wave may become the ‘new normal’.</jats:p>

Journal article

Chadeau-Hyam M, Wang H, Eales O, Haw D, Bodinier B, Whitaker M, Walters CE, Ainslie KEC, Atchison C, Fronterre C, Diggle PJ, Page AJ, Trotter AJ, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Riley S, Donnelly CA, Elliott Pet al., 2022, SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccine effectiveness in England (REACT-1): a series of cross-sectional random community surveys, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol: 10, Pages: 355-366, ISSN: 2213-2600

SummaryBackground England has experienced a third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic since the end of May, 2021, coincidingwith the rapid spread of the delta (B.1.617.2) variant, despite high levels of vaccination among adults. Vaccinationrates (single dose) in England are lower among children aged 16–17 years and 12–15 years, whose vaccination inEngland commenced in August and September, 2021, respectively. We aimed to analyse the underlying dynamicsdriving 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 datacollection in May, 2020, involves a series of random cross-sectional surveys in the general population of Englandaged 5 years and older. Using RT-PCR swab positivity data from 100 527 participants with valid throat and noseswabs in round 14 of REACT-1 (Sept 9–27, 2021), we estimated community-based prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 andvaccine 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 areproduction number (R) overall of 1·03 (95% CrI 0·94–1·14). Among the 475 (62·2%) of 764 sequenced positiveswabs, all were of the delta variant; 22 (4·63%; 95% CI 3·07–6·91) included the Tyr145His mutation in the spikeprotein 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 observedamong 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&m

Journal article

Papageorgiou V, Crittendon E, Coukan F, Davies B, Ward Het al., 2022, Impact of daily, oral pre-exposure prophylaxis on the risk of bacterial sexually transmitted infections among cisgender women: a systematic review and narrative synthesis, Wellcome Open Research, Vol: 7, Pages: 1-21, ISSN: 2398-502X

Background: There are concerns that the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may result in an increased incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Evidence for this is mixed and has mostly been based on reviews focussed on gay and bisexual men and transgender women, while none have summarised evidence in cisgender women.Methods: We conducted a systematic review to explore whether daily, oral PrEP use is associated with changes in bacterial STI occurrence (diagnoses or self-reported) and/or risk among HIV seronegative cisgender women (ciswomen). The quality of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) tool.Results: We included 11 full text articles in a narrative synthesis, with the studies published between 2012 and 2021. The studies were mostly based in Africa (n=7, 63.6%) and reported on 3168 ciswomen using PrEP aged 16–56 years. Studies had marked differences in variables, including measurements and definitions (e.g., STI type) and limited data available looking specifically at ciswomen, principally in studies with both male and female participants. The limited evidence suggests that PrEP use is not associated with increased STI rates in ciswomen generally; however, adolescent girls and young women in Sub Saharan Africa have a higher prevalence of bacterial STIs prior to PrEP initiation, compared to adult ciswomen and female sex workers.Conclusions: We suggest future PrEP research make efforts to include ciswomen as study participants and report stratified results by gender identity to provide adequate data to inform guidelines for PrEP implementation.PROSPERO registration: CRD42019130438

Journal article

Papageorgiou V, Crittendon E, Coukan F, Davies B, Ward Het al., 2022, Impact of daily, oral pre-exposure prophylaxis on the risk of bacterial sexually transmitted infections among cisgender women: a systematic review and narrative synthesis, Publisher: Wellcome Open Research

Background: There are concerns that the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may result in an increased incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Evidence for this is mixed and has mostly been based on reviews focussed on gay and bisexual men and transgender women, while none have summarised evidence in cisgender women.Methods: We conducted a systematic review to explore whether daily, oral PrEP use is associated with changes in bacterial STI occurrence (diagnoses or self-reported) and/or risk among HIV seronegative cisgender women (ciswomen). The quality of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) tool.Results: We included 11 full text articles in a narrative synthesis, with the studies published between 2012 and 2021. The studies were mostly based in Africa (n=7, 63.6%) and reported on 3168 ciswomen using PrEP aged 16–56 years. Studies had marked differences in variables, including measurements and definitions (e.g., STI type) and limited data available looking specifically at ciswomen, principally in studies with both male and female participants. The limited evidence suggests that PrEP use is not associated with increased STI rates in ciswomen generally; however, adolescent girls and young women in Sub Saharan Africa have a higher prevalence of bacterial STIs prior to PrEP initiation, compared to adult ciswomen and female sex workers.Conclusions: We suggest future PrEP research make efforts to include ciswomen as study participants and report stratified results by gender identity to provide adequate data to inform guidelines for PrEP implementation.PROSPERO registration: CRD42019130438

Working paper

Eales O, Walters CE, Wang H, Haw D, Ainslie KEC, Atchison CJ, Page AJ, Prosolek S, Trotter AJ, Le Viet T, Alikhan N-F, Jackson LM, Ludden C, Ashby D, Donnelly CA, Cooke G, Barclay W, Ward H, Darzi A, Elliott P, Riley Set al., 2022, Characterising the persistence of RT-PCR positivity and incidence in a community survey of SARS-CoV-2, Wellcome Open Research, Vol: 7, Pages: 102-102, ISSN: 2398-502X

Background: The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has provided unbiased estimates of swab-positivity in England approximately monthly since May 2020 using RT-PCR testing of self-administered throat and nose swabs. However, estimating infection incidence requires an understanding of the persistence of RT-PCR swab-positivity in the community.Methods: During round 8 of REACT-1 from 6 January to 22 January 2021, we collected up to two additional swabs from 896 initially RT-PCR positive individuals approximately 6 and 9 days after their initial swab.Results: Test sensitivity and duration of positivity were estimated using an exponential decay model, for all participants and for subsets by initial N-gene cycle threshold (Ct) value, symptom status, lineage and age. A P-spline model was used to estimate infection incidence for the entire duration of the REACT-1 study. REACT-1 test sensitivity was estimated at 0.79 (0.77, 0.81) with median duration of positivity at 9.7 (8.9, 10.6) days. We found greater duration of positivity in those exhibiting symptoms, with low N-gene Ct values, or infected with the Alpha variant. Test sensitivity was found to be higher for those who were pre-symptomatic or with low N-gene Ct values. Compared to swab-positivity, our estimates of infection incidence included sharper features with evident transient increases around the time of changes in social distancing measures.Conclusions: These results validate previous efforts to estimate incidence of SARS-CoV-2 from swab-positivity data and provide a reliable means to obtain community infection estimates to inform policy response.

Journal article

Chadeau-Hyam M, Tang D, Eales O, Bodinier B, Wang H, Jonnerby J, Whitaker M, Elliott J, Haw D, Walters C, Atchison C, Diggle P, Page A, Ashby D, Barclay W, Taylor G, Cooke G, Ward H, Darzi A, Donnelly C, Elliott Pet al., 2022, The Omicron SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in England during February 2022

Background The third wave of COVID-19 in England peaked in January 2022 resulting fromthe rapid transmission of the Omicron variant. However, rates of hospitalisations and deathswere substantially lower than in the first and second wavesMethods In the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study weobtained data from a random sample of 94,950 participants with valid throat and nose swabresults by RT-PCR during round 18 (8 February to 1 March 2022).Findings We estimated a weighted mean SARS-CoV-2 prevalence of 2.88% (95% credibleinterval [CrI] 2.76–3.00), with a within-round reproduction number (R) overall of 0.94 (0·91–0.96). While within-round weighted prevalence fell among children (aged 5 to 17 years) andadults aged 18 to 54 years, we observed a level or increasing weighted prevalence amongthose aged 55 years and older with an R of 1.04 (1.00–1.09). Among 1,195 positive sampleswith sublineages determined, only one (0.1% [0.0–0.5]) corresponded to AY.39 Deltasublineage and the remainder were Omicron: N=390, 32.7% (30.0–35.4) were BA.1; N=473,39.6% (36.8–42.5) were BA.1.1; and N=331, 27.7% (25.2–30.4) were BA.2. We estimated anR additive advantage for BA.2 (vs BA.1 or BA.1.1) of 0.40 (0.36–0.43). The highest proportionof BA.2 among positives was found in London.Interpretation In February 2022, infection prevalence in England remained high with levelor increasing rates of infection in older people and an uptick in hospitalisations. Ongoingsurveillance of both survey and hospitalisations data is required.Funding Department of Health and Social Care, England.

Working paper

Georgiou Delisle T, D'Souza N, Davies B, Benton S, Chen M, Ward H, Abulafi M, NICE FIT Steering Committeeet al., 2022, Faecal immunochemical test for suspected colorectal cancer symptoms: patient survey of usability and acceptability., BJGP Open, Vol: 6

BACKGROUND: Recent evidence suggests that the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) can rule out colorectal cancer (CRC) in symptomatic patients. To date, there is no research on usability and perception of FIT for these patients. AIM: To measure variation in attitudes and perception of FIT in patients with suspected CRC symptoms. DESIGN & SETTING: A cross-sectional survey of a subset of participants of the NICE FIT study. METHOD: A questionnaire was co-developed with patients covering four themes on a Likert scale: FIT feasibility, faecal aversion, patient knowledge, and future intentions. Questionnaire and FIT kits were sent to patients with suspected CRC symptoms participating in the NICE FIT study. Logistic regression explored differences in patients' test perception by ethnic group, language, age, location, deprivation, FIT use, and previous experience. RESULTS: A total of 1151 questionnaires were analysed; 90.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 88.3% to 91.8%) of patients found faecal collection straightforward, 76.3% (95% CI = 73.7% to 78.6%) disagreed FIT was unhygienic, and 78.1% (95% CI = 75.6% to 80.4%) preferred FIT to colonoscopy. Preference for FIT over colonoscopy was weaker in patients aged 40-64 years than those >65 years (odds ratio [OR] 0.60; 95% CI = 0.43 to 0.84). Intention to use FIT again was stronger in patients who successfully used FIT than those unsuccessful (OR 11.08; 95% CI = 2.74 to 44.75), and white compared with non-white patients assessed (OR 3.20; 95% CI = 1.32 to 7.75). CONCLUSION: While most patients found FIT practical and hygienic, perception differences were found. Strategies to engage patients with more negative FIT perception should underpin symptomatic FIT pathways.

Journal article

Papageorgiou V, Bruton P, Johnson H, Ward Het al., 2022, Peer Research Training Resource

This training slide deck, developed by the Patient Experience Research Centre at Imperial College, London, aims to support and provide a starting point for academics and public involvement practitioners who want to train people with lived experience to become co-researchers in qualitative/interview-based research studies. The resource was developed from a series of online training sessions which were originally used to induct and train peer researchers for a participatory research study on COVID-19 experiences among people living with HIV and covers training on:• Research Integrity: Ethics and Research Data Management• Qualitative Research and Public Involvement• Interviewing Skills and Emotional Wellbeing• Analysing Interview Transcripts

Report

Ward H, Whittaker M, Flower B, Tang S, Atchison C, Darzi A, Donnelly C, Cann A, Diggle P, Ashby D, Riley S, Barclay W, Elliott P, Cooke Get al., 2022, Population antibody responses following COVID-19 vaccination in 212,102 individuals, Nature Communications, Vol: 13, ISSN: 2041-1723

Population antibody surveillance helps track immune responses to COVID-19 vaccinations at scale, and identify host factors that may affect antibody production. We analyse data from 212,102 vaccinated individuals within the REACT-2 programme in England, which uses self-administered lateral flow antibody tests in sequential cross-sectional community samples; 71,923 (33.9%) received at least one dose of BNT162b2 vaccine and 139,067 (65.6%) received ChAdOx1. For both vaccines, antibody positivity peaks 4-5 weeks after first dose and then declines. At least 21 days after second dose of BNT162b2, close to 100% of respondents test positive, while for ChAdOx1, this is significantly reduced, particularly in the oldest age groups (72.7% [70.9–74.4] at ages 75 years and above). For both vaccines, antibody positivity decreases with age, and is higher in females and those with previous infection. Antibody positivity is lower in transplant recipients, obese individuals, smokers and those with specific comorbidities. These groups will benefit from additional vaccine doses.

Journal article

Viney W, Day S, Bruton J, Gleason K, Ion C, Nazir S, Ward Het al., 2022, Personalising clinical pathways in a London breast cancer service, SOCIOLOGY OF HEALTH & ILLNESS, Vol: 44, Pages: 624-640, ISSN: 0141-9889

Journal article

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