34 results found
Hogan A, Winskill P, Watson O, et al., 2020, Report 33: Modelling the allocation and impact of a COVID-19 vaccine
Several SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates are now in late-stage trials, with efficacy and safety results expected by the end of 2020. Even under optimistic scenarios for manufacture and delivery, the doses available in 2021 are likely to be limited. Here we identify optimal vaccine allocation strategies within and between countries to maximise health (avert deaths) under constraints on dose supply. We extended an existing mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission across different country settings to model the public health impact of potential vaccines, using a range of target product profiles developed by the World Health Organization. We show that as supply increases, vaccines that reduce or block infection – and thus transmission – in addition to preventing disease have a greater impact than those that prevent disease alone, due to the indirect protection provided to high-risk groups. We further demonstrate that the health impact of vaccination will depend on the cumulative infection incidence in the population when vaccination begins, the duration of any naturally acquired immunity, the likely trajectory of the epidemic in 2021 and the level of healthcare available to effectively treat those with disease. Within a country, we find that for a limited supply (doses for <20% of the population) the optimal strategy is to target the elderly and other high-risk groups. However, if a larger supply is available, the optimal strategy switches to targeting key transmitters (i.e. the working age population and potentially children) to indirectly protect the elderly and vulnerable. Given the likely global dose supply in 2021 (2 billion doses with a two-dose vaccine), we find that a strategy in which doses are allocated to countries in proportion to their population size is close to optimal in averting deaths. Such a strategy also aligns with the ethical principles agreed in pandemic preparedness planning.
Monod M, Blenkinsop A, Xi X, et al., 2020, Report 32: Targeting interventions to age groups that sustain COVID-19 transmission in the United States
Following inial declines, in mid 2020, a resurgence in transmission of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has occurred in the United States and parts of Europe. Despite the wide implementaon of non-pharmaceucal inter-venons, it is sll not known how they are impacted by changing contact paerns, age and other demographics. As COVID-19 disease control becomes more localised, understanding the age demographics driving transmission and how these impact the loosening of intervenons such as school reopening is crucial. Considering dynamics for the United States, we analyse aggregated, age-speciﬁc mobility trends from more than 10 million individuals and link these mechaniscally to age-speciﬁc COVID-19 mortality data. In contrast to previous approaches, we link mobility to mortality via age speciﬁc contact paerns and use this rich relaonship to reconstruct accurate trans-mission dynamics. Contrary to anecdotal evidence, we ﬁnd lile support for age-shis in contact and transmission dynamics over me. We esmate that, unl August, 63.4% [60.9%-65.5%] of SARS-CoV-2 infecons in the United States originated from adults aged 20-49, while 1.2% [0.8%-1.8%] originated from children aged 0-9. In areas with connued, community-wide transmission, our transmission model predicts that re-opening kindergartens and el-ementary schools could facilitate spread and lead to considerable excess COVID-19 aributable deaths over a 90-day period. These ﬁndings indicate that targeng intervenons to adults aged 20-49 are an important con-sideraon in halng resurgent epidemics, and prevenng COVID-19-aributable deaths when kindergartens and elementary schools reopen.
Hogan A, Jewell B, Sherrard-Smith E, et al., 2020, Potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries: a modelling study, The Lancet Global Health, Vol: 8, Pages: e1132-e1141, ISSN: 2214-109X
Background: COVID-19 has the potential to cause substantial disruptions to health services, including by cases overburdening the health system or response measures limiting usual programmatic activities. We aimed to quantify the extent to which disruptions in services for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in low- and middle-income countries with high burdens of those disease could lead to additional loss of life. Methods: We constructed plausible scenarios for the disruptions that could be incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and used established transmission models for each disease to estimate the additional impact on health that could be caused in selected settings.Findings: In high burden settings, HIV-, TB- and malaria-related deaths over five years may increase by up to 10%, 20% and 36%, respectively, compared to if there were no COVID-19 pandemic. We estimate the greatest impact on HIV to be from interruption to antiretroviral therapy, which may occur during a period of high health system demand. For TB, we estimate the greatest impact is from reductions in timely diagnosis and treatment of new cases, which may result from any prolonged period of COVID-19 suppression interventions. We estimate that the greatest impact on malaria burden could come from interruption of planned net campaigns. These disruptions could lead to loss of life-years over five years that is of the same order of magnitude as the direct impact from COVID-19 in places with a high burden of malaria and large HIV/TB epidemics.Interpretation: Maintaining the most critical prevention activities and healthcare services for HIV, TB and malaria could significantly reduce the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, DFID, MRC
Thompson H, Imai N, Dighe A, et al., 2020, SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence on repatriation flights from Wuhan City, China, Journal of Travel Medicine, ISSN: 1195-1982
We estimated SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence in cohorts of repatriated citizens from Wuhan to be 0.44% (95% CI: 0.19%–1.03%). Although not representative of the wider population we believe these estimates are helpful in providing a conservative estimate of infection prevalence in Wuhan City, China, in the absence of large-scale population testing early in the epidemic.
Lavezzo E, Franchin E, Ciavarella C, et al., 2020, Suppression of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in the Italian municipality of Vo'., Nature, Vol: 584, Pages: 425-429, ISSN: 0028-0836
On the 21st of February 2020 a resident of the municipality of Vo', a small town near Padua, died of pneumonia due to SARS-CoV-2 infection1. This was the first COVID-19 death detected in Italy since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province2. In response, the regional authorities imposed the lockdown of the whole municipality for 14 days3. We collected information on the demography, clinical presentation, hospitalization, contact network and presence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nasopharyngeal swabs for 85.9% and 71.5% of the population of Vo' at two consecutive time points. On the first survey, which was conducted around the time the town lockdown started, we found a prevalence of infection of 2.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1-3.3%). On the second survey, which was conducted at the end of the lockdown, we found a prevalence of 1.2% (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.8-1.8%). Notably, 42.5% (95% CI 31.5-54.6%) of the confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections detected across the two surveys were asymptomatic (i.e. did not have symptoms at the time of swab testing and did not develop symptoms afterwards). The mean serial interval was 7.2 days (95% CI 5.9-9.6). We found no statistically significant difference in the viral load of symptomatic versus asymptomatic infections (p-values 0.62 and 0.74 for E and RdRp genes, respectively, Exact Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test). This study sheds new light on the frequency of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, their infectivity (as measured by the viral load) and provides new insights into its transmission dynamics and the efficacy of the implemented control measures.
Flaxman S, Mishra S, Gandy A, et al., 2020, Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe, Nature, Vol: 584, Pages: 257-261, ISSN: 0028-0836
Following the emergence of a novel coronavirus1 (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread outside of China, Europe has experienced large epidemics. In response, many European countries have implemented unprecedented non-pharmaceutical interventions such as closure of schools and national lockdowns. We study the impact of major interventions across 11 European countries for the period from the start of COVID-19 until the 4th of May 2020 when lockdowns started to be lifted. Our model calculates backwards from observed deaths to estimate transmission that occurred several weeks prior, allowing for the time lag between infection and death. We use partial pooling of information between countries with both individual and shared effects on the reproduction number. Pooling allows more information to be used, helps overcome data idiosyncrasies, and enables more timely estimates. Our model relies on fixed estimates of some epidemiological parameters such as the infection fatality rate, does not include importation or subnational variation and assumes that changes in the reproduction number are an immediate response to interventions rather than gradual changes in behavior. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, we rely on death data that is incomplete, with systematic biases in reporting, and subject to future consolidation. We estimate that, for all the countries we consider, current interventions have been sufficient to drive the reproduction number Rt below 1 (probability Rt< 1.0 is 99.9%) and achieve epidemic control. We estimate that, across all 11 countries, between 12 and 15 million individuals have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 up to 4th May, representing between 3.2% and 4.0% of the population. Our results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions and lockdown in particular have had a large effect on reducing transmission. Continued intervention should be considered to keep transmission of SARS-CoV-2 under control.
Thompson RN, Hollingsworth TD, Isham V, et al., 2020, Key questions for modelling COVID-19 exit strategies, PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Vol: 287, ISSN: 0962-8452
Parag K, Du Plessis L, Pybus O, 2020, Jointly inferring the dynamics of population size and sampling intensity from molecular sequences, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol: 37, Pages: 2414-2429, ISSN: 0737-4038
Estimating past population dynamics from molecular sequences that have been sampled longitudinally through time is an important problem in infectious disease epidemiology, molecular ecology and macroevolution. Popular solutions, such as the skyline and skygrid methods, infer past effective population sizes from the coalescent event times of phylogenies reconstructed from sampled sequences, but assume that sequence sampling times are uninformative about population size changes. Recent work has started to question this assumption by exploring how sampling time information can aid coalescent inference. Here we develop, investigate, and implement a new skyline method, termed the epoch sampling skyline plot (ESP), to jointly estimate the dynamics of population size and sampling rate through time. The ESP is inspired by real-world data collection practices and comprises a flexible model in which the sequence sampling rate is proportional to the population size within an epoch but can change discontinuously between epochs. We show that the ESP is accurate under several realistic sampling protocols and we prove analytically that it can at least double the best precision achievable by standard approaches. We generalise the ESP to incorporate phylogenetic uncertainty in a new Bayesian package (BESP) in BEAST2. We re-examine two well-studied empirical datasets from virus epidemiology and molecular evolution and find that the BESP improves upon previous coalescent estimators and generates new, biologically-useful insights into the sampling protocols underpinning these datasets. Sequence sampling times provide a rich source of information for coalescent inference that will become increasingly important as sequence collection intensifies and becomes more formalised.
de Souza WM, Buss LF, Candido DDS, et al., 2020, Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of the COVID-19 epidemic in Brazil, NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR, Vol: 4, Pages: 856-+, ISSN: 2397-3374
Parag KV, Donnelly CA, Jha R, et al., 2020, An exact method for quantifying the reliability of end-of-epidemic declarations in real time
<jats:p>We derive and validate a novel and analytic method for estimating the probability that an epidemic has been eliminated (i.e. that no future local cases will emerge) in real time. When this probability crosses 0.95 an outbreak can be declared over with 95% confidence. Our method is easy to compute, only requires knowledge of the incidence curve and the serial interval distribution, and evaluates the statistical lifetime of the outbreak of interest. Using this approach, we rigorously show how the time-varying under-reporting of infected cases will artificially inflate the inferred probability of elimination and hence lead to early (false- positive) end-of-epidemic declarations. Contrastingly, we prove that incorrectly identifying imported cases as local will deceptively decrease this probability, resulting in late (false-negative) declarations. Failing to sustain intensive surveillance during the later phases of an epidemic can therefore substantially mislead policymakers on when it is safe to remove travel bans or relax quarantine and social distancing advisories. World Health Organisation guidelines recommend fixed (though disease-specific) waiting times for end-of-epidemic declarations that cannot accommodate these variations. Consequently, there is an unequivocal need for more active and specialised metrics for reliably identifying the conclusion of an epidemic.</jats:p>
Fu H, Xi X, Wang H, et al., 2020, Report 30: The COVID-19 epidemic trends and control measures in mainland China
Parag K, Donnelly C, 2020, Using information theory to optimise epidemic models for real-time prediction and estimation, PLoS Computational Biology, Vol: 16, ISSN: 1553-734X
The effective reproduction number, Rt, is a key time-varying prognostic for the growth rate of any infectious disease epidemic. Significant changes in Rt can forewarn about new transmissions within a population or predict the efficacy of interventions. Inferring Rt reliably and in real-time from observed time-series of infected (demographic) data is an important problem in population dynamics. The renewal or branching process model is a popular solution that has been applied to Ebola and Zika virus disease outbreaks, among others, and is currently being used to investigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This model estimates Rt using a heuristically chosen piecewise function. While this facilitates real-time detection of statistically significant Rt changes, inference is highly sensitive to the function choice. Improperly chosen piecewise models might ignore meaningful changes or over-interpret noise-induced ones, yet produce visually reasonable estimates. No principled piecewise selection scheme exists. We develop a practical yet rigorous scheme using the accumulated prediction error (APE) metric from information theory, which deems the model capable of describing the observed data using the fewest bits as most justified. We derive exact posterior prediction distributions for infected population size and integrate these within an APE framework to obtain an exact and reliable method for identifying the piecewise function best supported by available epidemic data. We find that this choice optimises short-term prediction accuracy and can rapidly detect salient fluctuations in Rt, and hence the infected population growth rate, in real-time over the course of an unfolding epidemic. Moreover, we emphasise the need for formal selection by exposing how common heuristic choices, which seem sensible, can be misleading. Our APE-based method is easily computed and broadly applicable to statistically similar models found in phylogenetics and macroevolution, for example. Our resu
Nouvellet P, Bhatia S, Cori A, et al., 2020, Report 26: Reduction in mobility and COVID-19 transmission
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have sought to control transmission of SARS-CoV-2by restricting population movement through social distancing interventions, reducing the number ofcontacts.Mobility data represent an important proxy measure of social distancing. Here, we develop aframework to infer the relationship between mobility and the key measure of population-level diseasetransmission, the reproduction number (R). The framework is applied to 53 countries with sustainedSARS-CoV-2 transmission based on two distinct country-specific automated measures of humanmobility, Apple and Google mobility data.For both datasets, the relationship between mobility and transmission was consistent within andacross countries and explained more than 85% of the variance in the observed variation intransmissibility. We quantified country-specific mobility thresholds defined as the reduction inmobility necessary to expect a decline in new infections (R<1).While social contacts were sufficiently reduced in France, Spain and the United Kingdom to controlCOVID-19 as of the 10th of May, we find that enhanced control measures are still warranted for themajority of countries. We found encouraging early evidence of some decoupling of transmission andmobility in 10 countries, a key indicator of successful easing of social-distancing restrictions.Easing social-distancing restrictions should be considered very carefully, as small increases in contactrates are likely to risk resurgence even where COVID-19 is apparently under control. Overall, strongpopulation-wide social-distancing measures are effective to control COVID-19; however gradualeasing of restrictions must be accompanied by alternative interventions, such as efficient contacttracing, to ensure control.
Dighe A, Cattarino L, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, et al., 2020, Report 25: Response to COVID-19 in South Korea and implications for lifting stringent interventions, 25
While South Korea experienced a sharp growth in COVID-19 cases early in the global pandemic, it has since rapidly reduced rates of infection and now maintains low numbers of daily new cases. Despite using less stringent “lockdown” measures than other affected countries, strong social distancing measures have been advised in high incidence areas and a 38% national decrease in movement occurred voluntarily between February 24th - March 1st. Suspected and confirmed cases were isolated quickly even during the rapid expansion of the epidemic and identification of the Shincheonji cluster. South Korea swiftly scaled up testing capacity and was able to maintain case-based interventions throughout. However, individual case-based contact tracing, not associated with a specific cluster, was a relatively minor aspect of their control program, with cluster investigations accounting for a far higher proportion of cases: the underlying epidemic was driven by a series of linked clusters, with 48% of all cases in the Shincheonji cluster and 20% in other clusters. Case-based contacts currently account for only 11% of total cases. The high volume of testing and low number of deaths suggests that South Korea experienced a small epidemic of infections relative to other countries. Therefore, caution is needed in attempting to duplicate the South Korean response in settings with larger more generalized epidemics. Finding, testing and isolating cases that are linked to clusters may be more difficult in such settings.
Unwin H, Mishra S, Bradley VC, et al., 2020, Report 23: State-level tracking of COVID-19 in the United States
our estimates show that the percentage of individuals that have been infected is 4.1% [3.7%-4.5%], with widevariation between states. For all states, even for the worst affected states, we estimate that less than a quarter of thepopulation has been infected; in New York, for example, we estimate that 16.6% [12.8%-21.6%] of individuals have beeninfected to date. Our attack rates for New York are in line with those from recent serological studies  broadly supportingour choice of infection fatality rate.There is variation in the initial reproduction number, which is likely due to a range of factors; we find a strong associationbetween the initial reproduction number with both population density (measured at the state level) and the chronologicaldate when 10 cumulative deaths occurred (a crude estimate of the date of locally sustained transmission).Our estimates suggest that the epidemic is not under control in much of the US: as of 17 May 2020 the reproductionnumber is above the critical threshold (1.0) in 24 [95% CI: 20-30] states. Higher reproduction numbers are geographicallyclustered in the South and Midwest, where epidemics are still developing, while we estimate lower reproduction numbersin states that have already suffered high COVID-19 mortality (such as the Northeast). These estimates suggest that cautionmust be taken in loosening current restrictions if effective additional measures are not put in place.We predict that increased mobility following relaxation of social distancing will lead to resurgence of transmission, keepingall else constant. We predict that deaths over the next two-month period could exceed current cumulative deathsby greater than two-fold, if the relationship between mobility and transmission remains unchanged. Our results suggestthat factors modulating transmission such as rapid testing, contact tracing and behavioural precautions are crucial to offsetthe rise of transmission associated with loosening of social distancing. Overall, we
Winskill P, Whittaker C, Walker P, et al., 2020, Report 22: Equity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: an assessment of the direct and indirect impacts on disadvantaged and vulnerable populations in low- and lower middle-income countries, 22
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in low-income settings is likely to be more severe due to limited healthcare capacity. Within these settings, however, there exists unfair or avoidable differences in health among different groups in society – health inequities – that mean that some groups are particularly at risk from the negative direct and indirect consequences of COVID-19. The structural determinants of these are often reflected in differences by income strata, with the poorest populations having limited access to preventative measures such as handwashing. Their more fragile income status will also mean that they are likely to be employed in occupations that are not amenable to social-distancing measures, thereby further reducing their ability to protect themselves from infection. Furthermore, these populations may also lack access to timely healthcare on becoming ill. We explore these relationships by using large-scale household surveys to quantify the differences in handwashing access, occupation and hospital access with respect to wealth status in low-income settings. We use a COVID-19 transmission model to demonstrate the impact of these differences. Our results demonstrate clear trends that the probability of death from COVID-19 increases with increasing poverty. On average, we estimate a 32.0% (2.5th-97.5th centile 8.0%-72.5%) increase in the probability of death in the poorest quintile compared to the wealthiest quintile from these three factors alone. We further explore how risk mediators and the indirect impacts of COVID-19 may also hit these same disadvantaged and vulnerable the hardest. We find that larger, inter-generational households that may hamper efforts to protect the elderly if social distancing are associated with lower-income countries and, within LMICs, lower wealth status. Poorer populations are also more susceptible to food security issues - with these populations having the highest levels under-nourishment whilst also being
Mellan T, Hoeltgebaum H, Mishra S, et al., 2020, Report 21: Estimating COVID-19 cases and reproduction number in Brazil
Brazil is an epicentre for COVID-19 in Latin America. In this report we describe the Brazilian epidemicusing three epidemiological measures: the number of infections, the number of deaths and the reproduction number. Our modelling framework requires sufficient death data to estimate trends, and wetherefore limit our analysis to 16 states that have experienced a total of more than fifty deaths. Thedistribution of deaths among states is highly heterogeneous, with 5 states—São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro,Ceará, Pernambuco and Amazonas—accounting for 81% of deaths reported to date. In these states, weestimate that the percentage of people that have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 ranges from 3.3% (95%CI: 2.8%-3.7%) in São Paulo to 10.6% (95% CI: 8.8%-12.1%) in Amazonas. The reproduction number (ameasure of transmission intensity) at the start of the epidemic meant that an infected individual wouldinfect three or four others on average. Following non-pharmaceutical interventions such as school closures and decreases in population mobility, we show that the reproduction number has dropped substantially in each state. However, for all 16 states we study, we estimate with high confidence that thereproduction number remains above 1. A reproduction number above 1 means that the epidemic isnot yet controlled and will continue to grow. These trends are in stark contrast to other major COVID19 epidemics in Europe and Asia where enforced lockdowns have successfully driven the reproductionnumber below 1. While the Brazilian epidemic is still relatively nascent on a national scale, our resultssuggest that further action is needed to limit spread and prevent health system overload.
Vollmer M, Mishra S, Unwin H, et al., 2020, Report 20: A sub-national analysis of the rate of transmission of Covid-19 in Italy
Italy was the first European country to experience sustained local transmission of COVID-19. As of 1st May 2020, the Italian health authorities reported 28; 238 deaths nationally. To control the epidemic, the Italian government implemented a suite of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including school and university closures, social distancing and full lockdown involving banning of public gatherings and non essential movement. In this report, we model the effect of NPIs on transmission using data on average mobility. We estimate that the average reproduction number (a measure of transmission intensity) is currently below one for all Italian regions, and significantly so for the majority of the regions. Despite the large number of deaths, the proportion of population that has been infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the attack rate) is far from the herd immunity threshold in all Italian regions, with the highest attack rate observed in Lombardy (13.18% [10.66%-16.70%]). Italy is set to relax the currently implemented NPIs from 4th May 2020. Given the control achieved by NPIs, we consider three scenarios for the next 8 weeks: a scenario in which mobility remains the same as during the lockdown, a scenario in which mobility returns to pre-lockdown levels by 20%, and a scenario in which mobility returns to pre-lockdown levels by 40%. The scenarios explored assume that mobility is scaled evenly across all dimensions, that behaviour stays the same as before NPIs were implemented, that no pharmaceutical interventions are introduced, and it does not include transmission reduction from contact tracing, testing and the isolation of confirmed or suspected cases. We find that, in the absence of additional interventions, even a 20% return to pre-lockdown mobility could lead to a resurgence in the number of deaths far greater than experienced in the current wave in several regions. Future increases in the number of deaths will lag behind the increase in transmission intensity and so a
Hogan A, Jewell B, Sherrard-Smith E, et al., 2020, Report 19: The potential impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries
COVID-19 has the potential to cause disruptions to health services in different ways; through the health system becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, through the intervention used to slow transmission of COVID-19 inhibiting access to preventative interventions and services, and through supplies of medicine being interrupted. We aim to quantify the extent to which such disruptions in services for HIV, TB and malaria in high burden low- and middle-income countries could lead to additional loss of life. In high burden settings, HIV, TB and malaria related deaths over 5 years may be increased by up to 10%, 20% and 36%, respectively, compared to if there were no COVID-19 epidemic. We estimate the greatest impact on HIV to be from interruption to ART, which may occur during a period of high or extremely high health system demand; for TB, we estimate the greatest impact is from reductions in timely diagnosis and treatment of new cases, which may result from a long period of COVID-19 suppression interventions; for malaria, we estimate that the greatest impact could come from reduced prevention activities including interruption of planned net campaigns, through all phases of the COVID-19 epidemic. In high burden settings, the impact of each type of disruption could be significant and lead to a loss of life-years over five years that is of the same order of magnitude as the direct impact from COVID-19 in places with a high burden of malaria and large HIV/TB epidemics. Maintaining the most critical prevention activities and healthcare services for HIV, TB and malaria could significantly reduce the overall impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Parag K, Donnelly C, 2020, Adaptive Estimation for Epidemic Renewal and Phylogenetic Skyline Models, Systematic Biology, ISSN: 1063-5157
Grassly N, Pons Salort M, Parker E, et al., 2020, Report 16: Role of testing in COVID-19 control
The World Health Organization has called for increased molecular testing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but different countries have taken very different approaches. We used a simple mathematical model to investigate the potential effectiveness of alternative testing strategies for COVID-19 control. Weekly screening of healthcare workers (HCWs) and other at-risk groups using PCR or point-of-care tests for infection irrespective of symptoms is estimated to reduce their contribution to transmission by 25-33%, on top of reductions achieved by self-isolation following symptoms. Widespread PCR testing in the general population is unlikely to limit transmission more than contact-tracing and quarantine based on symptoms alone, but could allow earlier release of contacts from quarantine. Immunity passports based on tests for antibody or infection could support return to work but face significant technical, legal and ethical challenges. Testing is essential for pandemic surveillance but its direct contribution to the prevention of transmission is likely to be limited to patients, HCWs and other high-risk groups.
Flaxman S, Mishra S, Gandy A, et al., 2020, Report 13: Estimating the number of infections and the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in 11 European countries
Following the emergence of a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread outside of China, Europe is now experiencing large epidemics. In response, many European countries have implemented unprecedented non-pharmaceutical interventions including case isolation, the closure of schools and universities, banning of mass gatherings and/or public events, and most recently, widescale social distancing including local and national lockdowns. In this report, we use a semi-mechanistic Bayesian hierarchical model to attempt to infer the impact of these interventions across 11 European countries. Our methods assume that changes in the reproductive number – a measure of transmission - are an immediate response to these interventions being implemented rather than broader gradual changes in behaviour. Our model estimates these changes by calculating backwards from the deaths observed over time to estimate transmission that occurred several weeks prior, allowing for the time lag between infection and death. One of the key assumptions of the model is that each intervention has the same effect on the reproduction number across countries and over time. This allows us to leverage a greater amount of data across Europe to estimate these effects. It also means that our results are driven strongly by the data from countries with more advanced epidemics, and earlier interventions, such as Italy and Spain. We find that the slowing growth in daily reported deaths in Italy is consistent with a significant impact of interventions implemented several weeks earlier. In Italy, we estimate that the effective reproduction number, Rt, dropped to close to 1 around the time of lockdown (11th March), although with a high level of uncertainty. Overall, we estimate that countries have managed to reduce their reproduction number. Our estimates have wide credible intervals and contain 1 for countries that have implemented all interventions considered in our analysis. This means that the reproducti
Parag KV, Donnelly CA, 2019, Optimising Renewal Models for Real-Time Epidemic Prediction and Estimation
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The effective reproduction number, <jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub>, is an important prognostic for infectious disease epidemics. Significant changes in <jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub> can forewarn about new transmissions or predict the efficacy of interventions. The renewal model infers <jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub> from incidence data and has been applied to Ebola virus disease and pandemic influenza outbreaks, among others. This model estimates <jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub> using a sliding window of length <jats:italic>k</jats:italic>. While this facilitates real-time detection of statistically significant <jats:italic>R</jats:italic><jats:sub><jats:italic>t</jats:italic></jats:sub> fluctuations, inference is highly <jats:italic>k</jats:italic> -sensitive. Models with too large or small <jats:italic>k</jats:italic> might ignore meaningful changes or over-interpret noise-induced ones. No principled <jats:italic>k</jats:italic> -selection scheme exists. We develop a practical yet rigorous scheme using the accumulated prediction error (APE) metric from information theory. We derive exact incidence prediction distributions and integrate these within an APE framework to identify the <jats:italic>k</jats:italic> best supported by available data. We find that this <jats:italic>k</jats:italic> optimises short-term prediction accuracy and expose how common, heuristic <jats:italic>k</jats:italic> -choices, which seem sensible, could be misleading.</jats:p>
Parag KV, 2019, On signalling and estimation limits for molecular birth-processes, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol: 480, Pages: 262-273, ISSN: 0022-5193
Understanding and uncovering the mechanisms or motifs that molecular networks employ to regulate noise is a key problem in cell biology. As it is often difficult to obtain direct and detailed insight into these mechanisms, many studies instead focus on assessing the best precision attainable on the signalling pathways that compose these networks. Molecules signal one another over such pathways to solve noise regulating estimation and control problems. Quantifying the maximum precision of these solutions delimits what is achievable and allows hypotheses about underlying motifs to be tested without requiring detailed biological knowledge. The pathway capacity, which defines the maximum rate of transmitting information along it, is a widely used proxy for precision. Here it is shown, for estimation problems involving elementary yet biologically relevant birth-process networks, that capacity can be surprisingly misleading. A time-optimal signalling motif, called birth-following, is derived and proven to better the precision expected from the capacity, provided the maximum signalling rate constraint is large and the mean one above a certain threshold. When the maximum constraint is relaxed, perfect estimation is predicted by the capacity. However, the true achievable precision is found highly variable and sensitive to the mean constraint. Since the same capacity can map to different combinations of rate constraints, it can only equivocally measure precision. Deciphering the rate constraints on a signalling pathway may therefore be more important than computing its capacity.
Parag K, Pybus O, 2019, Robust Design for Coalescent Model Inference (vol 68, pg 730, 2019), SYSTEMATIC BIOLOGY, Vol: 68, Pages: 1062-1062, ISSN: 1063-5157
Parag KV, Pybus OG, 2019, Robust Design for Coalescent Model Inference, SYSTEMATIC BIOLOGY, Vol: 68, Pages: 730-743, ISSN: 1063-5157
Parag KV, Donnelly CA, 2019, Adaptive Estimation for Epidemic Renewal and Phylogenetic Skyline Models
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Estimating temporal changes in a target population from phylogenetic or count data is an important problem in ecology and epidemiology. Reliable estimates can provide key insights into the climatic and biological drivers influencing the diversity or structure of that population and evidence hypotheses concerning its future growth or decline. In infectious disease applications, the individuals infected across an epidemic form the target population. The renewal model estimates the effective reproduction number, <jats:italic>R</jats:italic>, of the epidemic from counts of its observed cases. The skyline model infers the effective population size, <jats:italic>N</jats:italic>, underlying a phylogeny of sequences sampled from that epidemic. Practically, <jats:italic>R</jats:italic> measures ongoing epidemic growth while <jats:italic>N</jats:italic> informs on historical caseload. While both models solve distinct problems, the reliability of their estimates depends on <jats:italic>p</jats:italic>-dimensional piecewise-constant functions. If <jats:italic>p</jats:italic> is misspecified, the model might underfit significant changes or overfit noise and promote a spurious understanding of the epidemic, which might misguide intervention policies or misinform forecasts. Surprisingly, no transparent yet principled approach for optimising <jats:italic>p</jats:italic> exists. Usually, <jats:italic>p</jats:italic> is heuristically set, or obscurely controlled via complex algorithms. We present a computable and interpretable <jats:italic>p</jats:italic>-selection method based on the minimum description length (MDL) formalism of information theory. Unlike many standard model selection techniques, MDL accounts for the additional statistical complexity induced by how parameters interact. As a result, our method optimises
Hill SC, Hansen R, Watson S, et al., 2019, Comparative micro-epidemiology of pathogenic avian influenza virus outbreaks in a wild bird population, PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Vol: 374, ISSN: 0962-8436
Parag K, Pybus OG, 2018, Exact Bayesian inference for phylogenetic birth-death models, BIOINFORMATICS, Vol: 34, Pages: 3638-3645, ISSN: 1367-4803
Parag KV, Vinnicombe G, 2017, Point process analysis of noise in early invertebrate vision, PLoS Computational Biology, Vol: 13, Pages: 1-25, ISSN: 1553-734X
Noise is a prevalent and sometimes even dominant aspect of many biological processes. While many natural systems have adapted to attenuate or even usefully integrate noise, the variability it introduces often still delimits the achievable precision across biological functions. This is particularly so for visual phototransduction, the process responsible for converting photons of light into usable electrical signals (quantum bumps). Here, randomness of both the photon inputs (regarded as extrinsic noise) and the conversion process (intrinsic noise) are seen as two distinct, independent and significant limitations on visual reliability. Past research has attempted to quantify the relative effects of these noise sources by using approximate methods that do not fully account for the discrete, point process and time ordered nature of the problem. As a result the conclusions drawn from these different approaches have led to inconsistent expositions of phototransduction noise performance.This paper provides a fresh and complete analysis of the relative impact of intrinsic and extrinsic noise in invertebrate phototransduction using minimum mean squared error reconstruction techniques based on Bayesian point process (Snyder) filters. An integrate-fire based algorithm is developed to reliably estimate photon times from quantum bumps and Snyder filters are then used to causally estimate random light intensities both at the front and back end of the phototransduction cascade. Comparison of these estimates reveals that the dominant noise source transitions from extrinsic to intrinsic as light intensity increases. By extending the filtering techniques to account for delays, it is further found that among the intrinsic noise components, which include bump latency (mean delay and jitter) and shape (amplitude and width) variance, it is the mean delay that is critical to noise performance. As the timeliness of visual information is important for real-time action, this delay could pot
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