93 results found
Bhatia S, Imai N, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, et al., 2021, Estimating the number of undetected COVID-19 cases among travellers from mainland China, Wellcome Open Research, Vol: 5, Pages: 143-143
<ns3:p><ns3:bold>Background:</ns3:bold> As of August 2021, every region of the world has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 196,000,000 cases worldwide.</ns3:p><ns3:p> <ns3:bold>Methods: </ns3:bold>We analysed COVID-19 cases among travellers from mainland China to different regions and countries, comparing the region- and country-specific rates of detected and confirmed cases per flight volume to estimate the relative sensitivity of surveillance in different regions and countries.</ns3:p><ns3:p> <ns3:bold>Results: </ns3:bold>Although travel restrictions from Wuhan City and other cities across China may have reduced the absolute number of travellers to and from China, we estimated that up to 70% (95% CI: 54% - 80%) of imported cases could remain undetected relative to the sensitivity of surveillance in Singapore. The percentage of undetected imported cases rises to 75% (95% CI 66% - 82%) when comparing to the surveillance sensitivity in multiple countries.</ns3:p><ns3:p> <ns3:bold>Conclusions: </ns3:bold>Our analysis shows that a large number of COVID-19 cases remain undetected across the world.<ns3:bold> </ns3:bold>These undetected cases potentially resulted in multiple chains of human-to-human transmission outside mainland China.</ns3:p>
Okell L, Whittaker C, Ghani A, et al., 2021, Global patterns of submicroscopic Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection: insights from a systematic review and meta-analysis of population surveys, The Lancet Microbe, Vol: 2, Pages: e366-e374, ISSN: 2666-5247
Background: Adoption of molecular techniques to detect Plasmodium falciparum infection has revealed many previously undetected (by microscopy) yet transmissible low-density infections. The proportion of these infections is typically highest in low transmission settings, but drivers of submicroscopic infection remain unclear. Here, we update a previously conducted systematic review of asexual P. falciparum prevalence by microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the same population. We conduct a meta-analysis to explore potential drivers of submicroscopic infection and identify the locations where submicroscopic infections are most common. Methods: PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched up to 11th October 2020 for cross-sectional studies reporting data on asexual P.falciparum prevalence by both microscopy and PCR. Surveys of pregnant women, where participants had been chosen based on symptoms/treatment or that did not involve a population from a defined location were excluded. Both the number of individuals tested and positive by microscopy and PCR for P. falciparum infection were extracted from each reference. Bayesian regression modelling was used to explore determinants of the size of the submicroscopic reservoir including geography, seasonality, age, methodology and current/historical patterns of transmission.Findings: A total of 166 references containing 551 cross-sectional survey microscopy/PCR prevalence pairs were included. Our results highlight that submicroscopic infections predominate in low transmission settings across all settings, but also reveal marked geographical variation, with the proportion of infections that are submicroscopic being highest in South American surveys and lowest in West African studies. Whilst current transmission levels partly explain these results, we find that historical transmission intensity also represents a crucial determinant of the size of the submicroscopic reservoir, as does the demographic structure of
Knock ES, Whittles LK, Lees JA, et al., 2021, Key epidemiological drivers and impact of interventions in the 2020 SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in England, Science Translational Medicine, Vol: 13, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 1946-6234
We fitted a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in care homes and the community to regional surveillance data for England. Compared with other approaches, our model provides a synthesis of multiple surveillance data streams into a single coherent modelling framework allowing transmission and severity to be disentangled from features of the surveillance system. Of the control measures implemented, only national lockdown brought the reproduction number (Rteff ) below 1 consistently; if introduced one week earlier it could have reduced deaths in the first wave from an estimated 48,600 to 25,600 (95% credible interval [95%CrI]: 15,900-38,400). The infection fatality ratio decreased from 1.00% (95%CrI: 0.85%-1.21%) to 0.79% (95%CrI: 0.63%-0.99%), suggesting improved clinical care. The infection fatality ratio was higher in the elderly residing in care homes (23.3%, 95%CrI: 14.7%-35.2%) than those residing in the community (7.9%, 95%CrI: 5.9%-10.3%). On 2nd December 2020 England was still far from herd immunity, with regional cumulative infection incidence between 7.6% (95%CrI: 5.4%-10.2%) and 22.3% (95%CrI: 19.4%-25.4%) of the population. Therefore, any vaccination campaign will need to achieve high coverage and a high degree of protection in vaccinated individuals to allow non-pharmaceutical interventions to be lifted without a resurgence of transmission.
Challenger JD, Foo CY, Wu Y, et al., 2021, Modelling upper respiratory viral load dynamics of SARS-CoV-2
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Relationships between viral load, severity of illness, and transmissibility of virus, are fundamental to understanding pathogenesis and devising better therapeutic and prevention strategies for COVID-19. Here we present within-host modelling of viral load dynamics observed in the upper respiratory tract (URT), drawing upon 2172 serial measurements from 605 subjects, collected from 17 different studies. We developed a mechanistic model to describe viral load dynamics and host response, and contrast this with simpler mixed-effects regression analysis of peak viral load and its subsequent decline. We observed wide variation in URT viral load between individuals, over 5 orders of magnitude, at any given point in time since symptom onset. This variation was not explained by age, sex, or severity of illness, and these variables were not associated with the modelled early or late phases of immune-mediated control of viral load. We explored the application of the mechanistic model to identify measured immune responses associated with control of viral load. Neutralizing antibody correlated strongly with modelled immune-mediated control of viral load amongst subjects who produced neutralizing antibody. Our models can be used to identify host and viral factors which control URT viral load dynamics, informing future treatment and transmission blocking interventions.</jats:p>
Winskill P, Mousa A, Oresanya O, et al., 2021, Does integrated community case management (iCCM) target health inequities and treatment delays? Evidence from an analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys data from 21 countries in the period 2010 to 2018, Journal of Global Health, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2047-2978
BackgroundIntegrated community case management (iCCM) is a programme that can, via community health workers (CHWs), increase access to timely and essential treatments for children. As well as improving treatment coverage, iCCM has an additional equity-focus with the aim of targetingunderserved populations. To assess the success of iCCM programmes it is important that we understand the contribution they are making to equitable health coverage.MethodsWe analysed demographic and health survey data from 21 countries over 9 years to assess evidence and evaluate iCCM programmes. We summarise the contribution CHWs are making relative to other healthcare provider groups and what treatment combinations CHWs are commonly prescribing. We assessed the ability of CHWs to target treatment delays and health inequities by evaluating time to treatment following fever onset and relationships between CHWs and wealth, rurality and remoteness.ResultsThere was good evidence that CHWs are being successfully targeted to improve inequities in healthcare coverage. There is a larger contribution of CHWs in areas with higher poverty, rurality and remoteness. In six surveys CHWs were associated with significantly shorter average timebetween fever onset and advice or treatment seeking, whilst in one they were associated with significantly longer times. In areas with active CHW programmes, the contribution of CHWs relative to other healthcare provider groups varied between 11% to 45% of treatment visits. The distribution of types of treatment provided by CHWs was also very variable between countries.ConclusionsThe success of an iCCM programme depends not only on increasing treatment coverage but addressing inequities in access to timely healthcare. Whilst much work is still needed to attain universal healthcare targets, and despite incomplete data, there is evidence that iCCM is successfully addressing treatment delays and targeting underserved populations.
Ward H, Atchison C, Whitaker M, et al., 2021, SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence in England following the first peak of the pandemic., Nature Communications, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-8, ISSN: 2041-1723
England has experienced a large outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, disproportionately affecting people from disadvantaged and ethnic minority communities. It is unclear how much of this excess is due to differences in exposure associated with structural inequalities. Here we report from the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-2 (REACT-2) national study of over 100,000 people. After adjusting for test characteristics and re-weighting to the population, overall antibody prevalence is 6.0% (95% CI: 5.8-6.1). An estimated 3.4 million people had developed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 by mid-July 2020. Prevalence is two- to three-fold higher among health and care workers compared with non-essential workers, and in people of Black or South Asian than white ethnicity, while age- and sex-specific infection fatality ratios are similar across ethnicities. Our results indicate that higher hospitalisation and mortality from COVID-19 in minority ethnic groups may reflect higher rates of infection rather than differential experience of disease or care.
Verity R, Okell L, Dorigatti I, et al., 2021, COVID-19 and the difficulty of inferring epidemiological parameters from clinical data Reply, LANCET INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol: 21, Pages: 28-28, ISSN: 1473-3099
Fu H, Wang H, Xi X, et al., 2021, A database for the epidemic trends and control measures during the first wave of COVID-19 in mainland China, International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol: 102, Pages: 463-471, ISSN: 1201-9712
Objectives: This data collation effort aims to provide a comprehensive database to describe the epidemic trends and responses during the first wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)across main provinces in China. Methods: From mid-January to March 2020, we extracted publicly available data on the spread and control of COVID-19 from 31 provincial health authorities and major media outlets in mainland China. Based on these data, we conducted a descriptive analysis of the epidemics in the six most-affected provinces. Results: School closures, travel restrictions, community-level lockdown, and contact tracing were introduced concurrently around late January but subsequent epidemic trends were different across provinces. Compared to Hubei, the other five most-affected provinces reported a lower crude case fatality ratio and proportion of critical and severe hospitalised cases. From March 2020, as local transmission of COVID-19 declined, switching the focus of measures to testing and quarantine of inbound travellers could help to sustain the control of the epidemic. Conclusions: Aggregated indicators of case notifications and severity distributions are essential for monitoring an epidemic. A publicly available database with these indicators and information on control measures provides useful source for exploring further research and policy planning for response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Witmer K, Dahalan F, Delves M, et al., 2021, Transmission of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites to mosquitoes under antimalarial drug pressure, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Vol: 65, Pages: 1-17, ISSN: 0066-4804
Resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in the Plasmodium falciparum parasite is threatening to reverse recent gains in reducing global deaths from malaria. Whilst resistance manifests as delayed parasite clearance in patients the phenotype can only spread geographically via the sexual stages and mosquito transmission. In addition to their asexual killing properties, artemisinin and its derivatives sterilise sexual male gametocytes. Whether resistant parasites overcome this sterilising effect has not, however, been fully tested. Here, we analysed P. falciparum clinical isolates from the Greater Mekong Subregion, each demonstrating delayed clinical clearance and known resistance-associated polymorphisms in Kelch13 (PfK13var). As well as demonstrating reduced asexual sensitivity to drug, certain PfK13var isolates demonstrated a marked reduction in sensitivity to artemisinin in an in vitro male gamete formation assay. Importantly, this same reduction in sensitivity was observed when the most resistant isolate was tested directly in mosquito feeds. These results indicate that, under artemisinin drug pressure, whilst sensitive parasites are blocked, resistant parasites continue transmission. This selective advantage for resistance transmission could favour acquisition of additional host-specificity or polymorphisms affecting partner drug sensitivity in mixed infections. Favoured resistance transmission under ACT coverage could have profound implications for the spread of multidrug resistant malaria beyond Southeast Asia.
Mumtaz R, Okell LC, Challenger J, 2020, Asymptomatic recrudescence after artemether-lumefantrine treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Malaria Journal, Vol: 19, ISSN: 1475-2875
BackgroundIn clinical trials of therapy for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum, there are usually some patients who fail treatment even in the absence of drug resistance. Treatment failures, which can be due to recrudescence or re-infection, are categorized as ‘clinical’ or ‘parasitological’ failures, the former indicating that symptoms have returned. Asymptomatic recrudescence has public health implications for continued malaria transmission and may be important for the spread of drug-resistant malaria. As the number of recrudescences in an individual trial is often low, it is difficult to assess how commonplace asymptomatic recrudescence is, and with what factors it is associated.MethodsA systematic literature review was carried out on clinical trials of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) in patients seeking treatment for symptomatic uncomplicated falciparum malaria, and information on symptoms during treatment failure was recorded. Only treatment failures examined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were included, so as to exclude re-infections. A multivariable Bayesian regression model was used to explore factors potentially explaining the proportion of recrudescent infections which are symptomatic across the trials included in the study.ResultsAcross 60 published trials, including 9137 malaria patients, 37.8% [95% CIs (26.6–49.4%)] of recrudescences were symptomatic. A positive association was found between transmission intensity and the observed proportion of recrudescences that were asymptomatic. Symptoms were more likely to return in trials that only enrolled children aged < 72 months [odds ratio = 1.62, 95% CIs (1.01, 2.59)]. However, 84 studies had to be excluded from this analysis, as recrudescences were not specified as symptomatic or asymptomatic.ConclusionsAL, the most widely used treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum in Africa, remains a highly efficacious drug in most endemic countries. Howev
Unwin H, Mishra S, Bradley V, et al., 2020, State-level tracking of COVID-19 in the United States, Nature Communications, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 2041-1723
As of 1st June 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 104,232 confirmed or probable COVID-19-related deaths in the US. This was more than twice the number of deaths reported in the next most severely impacted country. We jointly model the US epidemic at the state-level, using publicly available deathdata within a Bayesian hierarchical semi-mechanistic framework. For each state, we estimate the number of individuals that have been infected, the number of individuals that are currently infectious and the time-varying reproduction number (the average number of secondary infections caused by an infected person). We use changes in mobility to capture the impact that non-pharmaceutical interventions and other behaviour changes have on therate of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. We estimate thatRtwas only below one in 23 states on 1st June. We also estimate that 3.7% [3.4%-4.0%] of the total population of the US had been infected, with wide variation between states, and approximately 0.01% of the population was infectious. We demonstrate good 3 week model forecasts of deaths with low error and good coverage of our credible intervals.
Grassly NC, Pons-Salort M, Parker EPK, et al., 2020, Comparison of molecular testing strategies for COVID-19 control: a mathematical modelling study, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 20, Pages: 1381-1389, ISSN: 1473-3099
BACKGROUND: WHO has called for increased testing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but countries have taken different approaches and the effectiveness of alternative strategies is unknown. We aimed to investigate the potential impact of different testing and isolation strategies on transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). METHODS: We developed a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission based on infectiousness and PCR test sensitivity over time since infection. We estimated the reduction in the effective reproduction number (R) achieved by testing and isolating symptomatic individuals, regular screening of high-risk groups irrespective of symptoms, and quarantine of contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases identified through test-and-trace protocols. The expected effectiveness of different testing strategies was defined as the percentage reduction in R. We reviewed data on the performance of antibody tests reported by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and examined their implications for the use of so-called immunity passports. FINDINGS: If all individuals with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 self-isolated and self-isolation was 100% effective in reducing onwards transmission, self-isolation of symptomatic individuals would result in a reduction in R of 47% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 32-55). PCR testing to identify SARS-CoV-2 infection soon after symptom onset could reduce the number of individuals needing to self-isolate, but would also reduce the effectiveness of self-isolation (around 10% would be false negatives). Weekly screening of health-care workers and other high-risk groups irrespective of symptoms by use of PCR testing is estimated to reduce their contribution to SARS-CoV-2 transmission by 23% (95% UI 16-40), on top of reductions achieved by self-isolation following symptoms, assuming results are available at 24 h. The effectiveness of test and trace depends strongly on coverage and the timelines
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, Vol: 27, Pages: 1-3, 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.
Okell LC, Verity R, Katzourakis A, et al., 2020, Host or pathogen-related factors in COVID-19 severity? Reply, LANCET, Vol: 396, Pages: 1397-1397, ISSN: 0140-6736
Brazeau N, Verity R, Jenks S, et al., 2020, Report 34: COVID-19 infection fatality ratio: estimates from seroprevalence
The infection fatality ratio (IFR) is a key statistic for estimating the burden of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and has been continuously debated throughout the current pandemic. Previous estimates have relied on data early in the epidemic, or have not fully accounted for uncertainty in serological test characteristics and delays from onset of infection to seroconversion, death, and antibody waning. After screening 175 studies, we identified 10 representative antibody surveys to obtain updated estimates of the IFR using a modelling framework that addresses the limitations listed above. We inferred serological test specificity from regional variation within serosurveys, which is critical for correctly estimating the cumulative proportion infected when seroprevalence is still low. We find that age-specific IFRs follow an approximately log-linear pattern, with the risk of death doubling approximately every eight years of age. Using these age-specific estimates, we estimate the overall IFR in a typical low-income country, with a population structure skewed towards younger individuals, to be 0.23% (0.14-0.42 95% prediction interval range). In contrast, in a typical high income country, with a greater concentration of elderly individuals, we estimate the overall IFR to be 1.15% (0.78-1.79 95% prediction interval range). We show that accounting for seroreversion, the waning of antibodies leading to a negative serological result, can slightly reduce the IFR among serosurveys conducted several months after the first wave of the outbreak, such as Italy. In contrast, uncertainty in test false positive rates combined with low seroprevalence in some surveys can reconcile apparently low crude fatality ratios with the IFR in other countries. Unbiased estimates of the IFR continue to be critical to policymakers to inform key response decisions. It will be important to continue to monitor the IFR as new treatments are introduced. The code for reproducing these results are av
Mousa A, Al-Taiar A, Anstey NM, et al., 2020, The impact of delayed treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria on progression to severe malaria: a systematic review and a pooled multicentre individual-patient meta-analysis, PLoS Medicine, Vol: 17, Pages: 1-28, ISSN: 1549-1277
Background: Delay in receiving treatment for uncomplicated malaria is often reported to increase the risk of developing severe malaria, but access to treatment remains low in most high-burden areas. Understanding the contribution of treatment delay on progression to severe disease is critical to determine how quickly patients need to receive treatment and to quantify the impact of widely implemented treatment interventions, such as “test-and-treat” policies administered by community health workers. We conducted a pooled individual-participant meta-analysis to estimate the association between treatment delay and presenting with severe malaria.Methods and Findings: A search using Ovid MEDLINE and Embase was initially conducted to identify studies on severe P. falciparum malaria which included information on treatment delay, such as fever duration 12(inceptions to 22nd September 2017). Studies identified included five case-control and eight other observational clinical studies of severe and uncomplicated malaria cases. Risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa scale and all studies were ranked as “Good”, scoring ≥7/10. Individual-patient data were pooled from thirteen studies of 3,989(94.1% aged <15 years)severe malaria patients and 5,780(79.6% aged <15 years)uncomplicated malaria cases in Benin, Malaysia, Mozambique, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Definitions of severe malaria were standardised across studies to compare treatment delay in patients with uncomplicated malaria and different severe malaria phenotypes using age-adjusted mixed-effects regression. The odds of any severe malaria phenotype were significantly higher in children with longer delays between initial symptoms and arrival at the health facility (OR=1.33, 95%CI:1.07-1.64 for a delay of >24 hours vs. ≤24 hours;p=0.009). Reported illness duration was a strong predictor of presenting with severe malarial anaemia (SMA) in children
Ainslie K, Walters C, Fu H, et al., 2020, Evidence of initial success for China exiting COVID-19 social distancing policy after achieving containment, Wellcome Open Research, ISSN: 2398-502X
Background : The COVID-19 epidemic was declared a Global Pandemic by WHO on 11 March 2020. By 24 March 2020, over 440,000 cases and almost 20,000 deaths had been reported worldwide. In response to the fast-growing epidemic, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei, China imposed strict social distancing in Wuhan on 23 January 2020 followed closely by similar measures in other provinces. These interventions have impacted economic productivity in China, and the ability of the Chinese economy to resume without restarting the epidemic was not clear. Methods : Using daily reported cases from mainland China and Hong Kong SAR, we estimated transmissibility over time and compared it to daily within-city movement, as a proxy for economic activity. Results : Initially, within-city movement and transmission were very strongly correlated in the five mainland provinces most affected by the epidemic and Beijing. However, that correlation decreased rapidly after the initial sharp fall in transmissibility. In general, towards the end of the study period, the correlation was no longer apparent, despite substantial increases in within-city movement. A similar analysis for Hong Kong shows that intermediate levels of local activity were maintained while avoiding a large outbreak. At the very end of the study period, when China began to experience the re-introduction of a small number of cases from Europe and the United States, there is an apparent up-tick in transmission. Conclusions: Although these results do not preclude future substantial increases in incidence, they suggest that after very intense social distancing (which resulted in containment), China successfully exited its lockdown to some degree. Elsewhere, movement data are being used as proxies for economic activity to assess the impact of interventions. The results presented here illustrate how the eventual decorrelation between transmission and movement is likely a key feature of successful COVID-19 exit strategies.
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, Pages: 1-32
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.
van Elsland S, Watson O, Alhaffar M, et al., 2020, Report 31: Estimating the burden of COVID-19 in Damascus, Syria: an analysis of novel data sources to infer mortality under-ascertainment
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial mortality worldwide. However, to date, countries in the Middle East and Africa have reported substantially lower mortality rates than in Europe and the Americas. One hypothesis is that these countries have been ‘spared’, but another is that deaths have been under-ascertained (deaths that have been unreported due to any number of reasons, for instance due to limited testing capacity). However, the scale of under-ascertainment is difficult to assess with currently available data. In this analysis, we estimate the potential under-ascertainment of COVID-19 mortality in Damascus, Syria, where all-cause mortality data has been reported between 25th July and 1st August. We fit a mathematical model of COVID-19 transmission to reported COVID-19 deaths in Damascus since the beginning of the pandemic and compare the model-predicted deaths to reported excess deaths. Exploring a range of different assumptions about under-ascertainment, we estimate that only 1.25% of deaths (sensitivity range 1% - 3%) due to COVID-19 are reported in Damascus. Accounting for under-ascertainment also corroborates local reports of exceeded hospital bed capacity. To validate the epidemic dynamics inferred, we leverage community-uploaded obituary certificates as an alternative data source, which confirms extensive mortality under-ascertainment in Damascus between July and August. This level of under-ascertainment suggests that Damascus is at a much later stage in its epidemic than suggested by surveillance reports, which have repo. We estimate that 4,340 (95% CI: 3,250 - 5,540) deaths due to COVID-19 in Damascus may have been missed as of 2nd September 2020. Given that Damascus is likely to have the most robust surveillance in Syria, these findings suggest that other regions of the country could have experienced similar or worse mortality rates due to COVID-19.
Watson O, Okell L, Hellewell J, et al., 2020, Evaluating the performance of malaria genetics for inferring changes in transmission intensity using transmission modelling, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol: 38, Pages: 274-289, ISSN: 0737-4038
Substantial progress has been made globally to control malaria, however there is a growing need for innovative new tools to ensure continued progress. One approach is to harness genetic sequencing and accompanying methodological approaches as have been used in the control of other infectious diseases. However, to utilise these methodologies for malaria we first need to extend the methods to capture the complex interactions between parasites, human and vector hosts, and environment, which all impact the level of genetic diversity and relatedness of malaria parasites. We develop an individual-based transmission model to simulate malaria parasite genetics parameterised using estimated relationships between complexity of infection and age from 5 regions in Uganda and Kenya. We predict that cotransmission and superinfection contribute equally to within-host parasite genetic diversity at 11.5% PCR prevalence, above which superinfections dominate. Finally, we characterise the predictive power of six metrics of parasite genetics for detecting changes in transmission intensity, before grouping them in an ensemble statistical model. The model predicted malaria prevalence with a mean absolute error of 0.055. Different assumptions about the availability of sample metadata were considered, with the most accurate predictions of malaria prevalence made when the clinical status and age of sampled individuals is known. Parasite genetics may provide a novel surveillance tool for estimating the prevalence of malaria in areas in which prevalence surveys are not feasible. However, the findings presented here reinforce the need for patient metadata to be recorded and made available within all future attempts to use parasite genetics for surveillance.
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
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.
Sherrard-Smith E, Hogan AB, Hamlet A, et al., 2020, The potential public health consequences of COVID-19 on malaria in Africa., Nature Medicine, Vol: 26, Pages: 1411-1416, ISSN: 1078-8956
The burden of malaria is heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where cases and deaths associated with COVID-19 are rising1. In response, countries are implementing societal measures aimed at curtailing transmission of SARS-CoV-22,3. Despite these measures, the COVID-19 epidemic could still result in millions of deaths as local health facilities become overwhelmed4. Advances in malaria control this century have been largely due to distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs)5, with many SSA countries having planned campaigns for 2020. In the present study, we use COVID-19 and malaria transmission models to estimate the impact of disruption of malaria prevention activities and other core health services under four different COVID-19 epidemic scenarios. If activities are halted, the malaria burden in 2020 could be more than double that of 2019. In Nigeria alone, reducing case management for 6 months and delaying LLIN campaigns could result in 81,000 (44,000-119,000) additional deaths. Mitigating these negative impacts is achievable, and LLIN distributions in particular should be prioritized alongside access to antimalarial treatments to prevent substantial malaria epidemics.
Fu H, Xi X, Wang H, et al., 2020, Report 30: The COVID-19 epidemic trends and control measures in mainland China
Okell LC, Verity R, Watson OJ, et al., 2020, Have deaths from COVID-19 in Europe plateaued due to herd immunity?, LANCET, Vol: 395, Pages: E110-E111, ISSN: 0140-6736
Bhatia S, Imai N, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, et al., 2020, Estimating the number of undetected COVID-19 cases among travellers from mainland China, Publisher: F1000 Research Ltd
Background: Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in late 2019, there have been more than 152 affected regions and countries with over 110,000 confirmed cases outside mainland China.Methods: We analysed COVID-19 cases among travellers from mainland China to different regions and countries, comparing the region- and country-specific rates of detected and confirmed cases per flight volume to estimate the relative sensitivity of surveillance in different regions and countries.Results: Although travel restrictions from Wuhan City and other cities across China may have reduced the absolute number of travellers to and from China, we estimated that more than two thirds (70%, 95% CI: 54% - 80%, compared to Singapore; 75%, 95% CI: 66% - 82%, compared to multiple countries) of cases exported from mainland China have remained undetected.Conclusions: These undetected cases potentially resulted in multiple chains of human-to-human transmission outside mainland China.
Walker PGT, Whittaker C, Watson OJ, et al., 2020, The impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression in low- and middle-income countries, Science, Vol: 369, Pages: 413-422, ISSN: 0036-8075
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic poses a severe threat to public health worldwide. We combine data on demography, contact patterns, disease severity, and health care capacity and quality to understand its impact and inform strategies for its control. Younger populations in lower income countries may reduce overall risk but limited health system capacity coupled with closer inter-generational contact largely negates this benefit. Mitigation strategies that slow but do not interrupt transmission will still lead to COVID-19 epidemics rapidly overwhelming health systems, with substantial excess deaths in lower income countries due to the poorer health care available. Of countries that have undertaken suppression to date, lower income countries have acted earlier. However, this will need to be maintained or triggered more frequently in these settings to keep below available health capacity, with associated detrimental consequences for the wider health, well-being and economies of these countries.
Verity R, Okell LC, Dorigatti I, et al., 2020, Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis., Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 20, Pages: 669-677, ISSN: 1473-3099
BACKGROUND: In the face of rapidly changing data, a range of case fatality ratio estimates for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been produced that differ substantially in magnitude. We aimed to provide robust estimates, accounting for censoring and ascertainment biases. METHODS: We collected individual-case data for patients who died from COVID-19 in Hubei, mainland China (reported by national and provincial health commissions to Feb 8, 2020), and for cases outside of mainland China (from government or ministry of health websites and media reports for 37 countries, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, until Feb 25, 2020). These individual-case data were used to estimate the time between onset of symptoms and outcome (death or discharge from hospital). We next obtained age-stratified estimates of the case fatality ratio by relating the aggregate distribution of cases to the observed cumulative deaths in China, assuming a constant attack rate by age and adjusting for demography and age-based and location-based under-ascertainment. We also estimated the case fatality ratio from individual line-list data on 1334 cases identified outside of mainland China. Using data on the prevalence of PCR-confirmed cases in international residents repatriated from China, we obtained age-stratified estimates of the infection fatality ratio. Furthermore, data on age-stratified severity in a subset of 3665 cases from China were used to estimate the proportion of infected individuals who are likely to require hospitalisation. FINDINGS: Using data on 24 deaths that occurred in mainland China and 165 recoveries outside of China, we estimated the mean duration from onset of symptoms to death to be 17·8 days (95% credible interval [CrI] 16·9-19·2) and to hospital discharge to be 24·7 days (22·9-28·1). In all laboratory confirmed and clinically diagnosed cases from mainland China (n=70 117), we estimated a crude case fatality ratio (adjusted for cen
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.
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