77 results found
Cox V, O'Driscoll M, Imai N, et al., 2022, Estimating dengue transmission intensity from serological data: a comparative analysis using mixture and catalytic models., PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Vol: 16, Pages: e0010592-e0010592, ISSN: 1935-2727
BACKGROUND: Dengue virus (DENV) infection is a global health concern of increasing magnitude. To target intervention strategies, accurate estimates of the force of infection (FOI) are necessary. Catalytic models have been widely used to estimate DENV FOI and rely on a binary classification of serostatus as seropositive or seronegative, according to pre-defined antibody thresholds. Previous work has demonstrated the use of thresholds can cause serostatus misclassification and biased estimates. In contrast, mixture models do not rely on thresholds and use the full distribution of antibody titres. To date, there has been limited application of mixture models to estimate DENV FOI. METHODS: We compare the application of mixture models and time-constant and time-varying catalytic models to simulated data and to serological data collected in Vietnam from 2004 to 2009 (N ≥ 2178) and Indonesia in 2014 (N = 3194). RESULTS: The simulation study showed larger mean FOI estimate bias from the time-constant and time-varying catalytic models (-0.007 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): -0.069, 0.029) and -0.006 (95% CI -0.095, 0.043)) than from the mixture model (0.001 (95% CI -0.036, 0.065)). Coverage of the true FOI was > 95% for estimates from both the time-varying catalytic and mixture model, however the latter had reduced uncertainty. When applied to real data from Vietnam, the mixture model frequently produced higher FOI and seroprevalence estimates than the catalytic models. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest mixture models represent valid, potentially less biased, alternatives to catalytic models, which could be particularly useful when estimating FOI from data with largely overlapping antibody titre distributions.
Imai N, Gaythorpe K, Bhatia S, et al., 2022, COVID-19 in Japan, January – March 2020: insights from the first three months of the epidemic, BMC Infectious Diseases, Vol: 22, ISSN: 1471-2334
Background:Understanding the characteristics and natural history of novel pathogens is crucial to inform successful control measures. Japan was one of the first affected countries in the COVID-19 pandemic reporting their first case on 14 January 2020. Interventions including airport screening, contact tracing, and cluster investigations were quickly implemented. Here we present insights from the first 3 months of the epidemic in Japan based on detailed case data. Methods:We conducted descriptive analyses based on information systematically extracted from individual case reports from 13 January to 31 March 2020 including patient demographics, date of report and symptom onset, symptom progression, travel history, and contact type. We analysed symptom progression and estimated the time-varying reproduction number, Rt, correcting for epidemic growth using an established Bayesian framework. Key delays and the age-specific probability of transmission were estimated using data on exposures and transmission pairs. Results:The corrected fitted mean onset-to-reporting delay after the peak was 4 days (standard deviation: ±2 days). Early transmission was driven primarily by returning travellers with Rt peaking at 2.4 (95%CrI:1.6, 3.3) nationally. In the final week of the trusted period (16 – 23 March 2020), Rt accounting for importations diverged from overall Rt at 1.1 (95% CrI: 1.0, 1.2) compared to 1.5 (95% CrI: 1.3, 1.6) respectively. Household (39.0%) and workplace (11.6%) exposures were the most frequently reported potential source of infection. The estimated probability of transmission was assortative by age with individuals more likely to infect, and be infected by, contacts in a similar age group to them. Across all age groups, cases most frequently onset with cough, fever, and fatigue. There were no reported cases of patients <20 years old developing pneumonia or severe respiratory symptoms.Conclusions:Information collected in the early phases of an out
Imai N, Gaythorpe KAM, Bhatia S, et al., 2022, COVID-19 in Japan: insights from the first three months of the epidemic, Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
BackgroundUnderstanding the characteristics and natural history of novel pathogens is crucial to inform successful control measures. Japan was one of the first affected countries in the COVID-19 pandemic reporting their first case on 14 January 2020. Interventions including airport screening, contact tracing, and cluster investigations were quickly implemented. Here we present insights from the first 3 months of the epidemic in Japan based on detailed case data. MethodsWe conducted descriptive analyses based on information systematically extracted from individual case reports from 13 January to 31 March 2020 including patient demographics, date of report and symptom onset, symptom progression, travel history, and contact type. We analysed symptom progression and estimated the time-varying reproduction number, Rt, correcting for epidemic growth using an established Bayesian framework. Key delays and the age-specific probability of transmission were estimated using data on exposures and transmission pairs. ResultsThe corrected fitted mean onset-to-reporting delay after the peak was 4 days (standard deviation: ±2 days). Early transmission was driven primarily by returning travellers with Rt peaking at 2.4 (95%CrI:1.6, 3.3) nationally. In the final week of the trusted period, Rt accounting for importations diverged from overall Rt at 1.1 (95% CrI: 1.0, 1.2) compared to 1.5 (95% CrI: 1.3, 1.6) respectively. Household (39.0%) and workplace (11.6%) exposures were the most frequently reported potential source of infection. The estimated probability of transmission was assortative by age. Across all age groups, cases most frequently onset with cough, fever, and fatigue. There were no reported cases of patients <20 years old developing pneumonia or severe respiratory symptoms.ConclusionsInformation collected in the early phases of an outbreak are important in characterising any novel pathogen. Timely recognition of key symptoms and high-risk settings for transmi
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
<ns4:p><ns4:bold>Background:</ns4: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.</ns4:p><ns4:p> <ns4:bold>Methods: </ns4: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.</ns4:p><ns4:p> <ns4:bold>Results: </ns4: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.</ns4:p><ns4:p> <ns4:bold>Conclusions: </ns4:bold>Our analysis shows that a large number of COVID-19 cases remain undetected across the world.<ns4:bold> </ns4:bold>These undetected cases potentially resulted in multiple chains of human-to-human transmission outside mainland China.</ns4:p>
Sonabend R, Whittles LK, Imai N, et al., 2021, Non-pharmaceutical interventions, vaccination, and the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant in England: a mathematical modelling study, The Lancet, Vol: 398, Pages: 1825-1835, ISSN: 0140-6736
Background:England's COVID-19 roadmap out of lockdown policy set out the timeline and conditions for the stepwise lifting of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) as vaccination roll-out continued, with step one starting on March 8, 2021. In this study, we assess the roadmap, the impact of the delta (B.1.617.2) variant of SARS-CoV-2, and potential future epidemic trajectories.Methods:This mathematical modelling study was done to assess the UK Government's four-step process to easing lockdown restrictions in England, UK. We extended a previously described model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to incorporate vaccination and multi-strain dynamics to explicitly capture the emergence of the delta variant. We calibrated the model to English surveillance data, including hospital admissions, hospital occupancy, seroprevalence data, and population-level PCR testing data using a Bayesian evidence synthesis framework, then modelled the potential trajectory of the epidemic for a range of different schedules for relaxing NPIs. We estimated the resulting number of daily infections and hospital admissions, and daily and cumulative deaths. Three scenarios spanning a range of optimistic to pessimistic vaccine effectiveness, waning natural immunity, and cross-protection from previous infections were investigated. We also considered three levels of mixing after the lifting of restrictions.Findings:The roadmap policy was successful in offsetting the increased transmission resulting from lifting NPIs starting on March 8, 2021, with increasing population immunity through vaccination. However, because of the emergence of the delta variant, with an estimated transmission advantage of 76% (95% credible interval [95% CrI] 69–83) over alpha, fully lifting NPIs on June 21, 2021, as originally planned might have led to 3900 (95% CrI 1500–5700) peak daily hospital admissions under our central parameter scenario. Delaying until July 19, 2021, reduced peak hospital admissions by three fol
Bhatia S, Parag K, Wardle J, et al., 2021, Global predictions of short- to medium-term COVID-19 transmission trends : a retrospective assessment
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>From 8th March to 29th November 2020, we produced weekly estimates of SARS-CoV-2 transmissibility and forecasts of deaths due to COVID-19 for 81 countries with evidence of sustained transmission. We also developed a novel heuristic to combine weekly estimates of transmissibility to produce forecasts over a 4-week horizon. We evaluated the robustness of the forecasts using relative error, coverage probability, and comparisons with null models. During the 39-week period covered by this study, both the short- and medium-term forecasts captured well the epidemic trajectory across different waves of COVID-19 infections with small relative errors over the forecast horizon. The model was well calibrated with 56.3\% and 45.6\% of the observations lying in the 50\% Credible Interval in 1-week and 4-week ahead forecasts respectively. We could accurately characterise the overall phase of the epidemic up to 4-weeks ahead in 84.9\% of country-days. The medium-term forecasts can be used in conjunction with the short-term forecasts of COVID-19 mortality as a useful planning tool as countries continue to relax public health measures.</jats:p>
Imai N, Hogan AB, Williams L, et al., 2021, Interpreting estimates of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine efficacy and effectiveness to inform simulation studies of vaccine impact: a systematic review, Wellcome Open Research, Vol: 6, Pages: 185-185
<ns3:p><ns3:bold>Background:</ns3:bold> The multiple efficacious vaccines authorised for emergency use worldwide represent the first preventative intervention against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that does not rely on social distancing measures. The speed at which data are emerging and the heterogeneities in study design, target populations, and implementation make it challenging to interpret and assess the likely impact of vaccine campaigns on local epidemics. We reviewed available vaccine efficacy and effectiveness studies to generate working estimates that can be used to parameterise simulation studies of vaccine impact.</ns3:p><ns3:p> <ns3:bold>Methods:</ns3:bold> We searched MEDLINE, the World Health Organization’s Institutional Repository for Information Sharing, medRxiv, and vaccine manufacturer websites for studies that evaluated the emerging data on COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and effectiveness. Studies providing an estimate of the efficacy or effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine using disaggregated data against SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptomatic disease, severe disease, death, or transmission were included. We extracted information on study population, variants of concern (VOC), vaccine platform, dose schedule, study endpoints, and measures of impact. We applied an evidence synthesis approach to capture a range of plausible and consistent parameters for vaccine efficacy and effectiveness that can be used to inform and explore a variety of vaccination strategies as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.</ns3:p><ns3:p> <ns3:bold>Results:</ns3:bold> Of the 602 articles and reports identified, 53 were included in the analysis. The availability of vaccine efficacy and effectiveness estimates varied by vaccine and were limited for VOCs. Estimates for non-primary endpoints such as effectiveness against infection and onward transmission were sparse. Synthesised estimates were relatively consistent
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.
Gaythorpe K, Bhatia S, Mangal T, et al., 2021, Children’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review of early surveillance data on susceptibility, severity, and transmissibility, Scientific Reports, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2045-2322
Background: SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in all age groups including infants, children, and adolescents. However, the role of children in the COVID-19 pandemic is still uncertain. This systematic review of early studies synthesises evidence on the susceptibility of children to SARS-CoV-2 infection, the severity and clinical outcomes in children with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 by children in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods and findings: A systematic literature review was conducted in PubMed. Reviewers extracted data from relevant, peer-reviewed studies published up to July 4th 2020 during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak using a standardised form and assessed quality using the NIH Quality Assessment Tool for Observational Cohort and Cross-Sectional Studies. For studies included in the meta-analysis, we used a random effects model to calculate pooled estimates of the proportion of children considered asymptomatic or in a severe or critical state. We identified 2,775 potential studies of which 128 studies met our inclusion criteria; data were extracted from 99, which were then quality assessed. Finally, 29 studies were considered for the meta-analysis that included information of symptoms and/or severity, these were further assessed based on patient recruitment. Our pooled estimate of the proportion of test positive children who were asymptomatic was 21.1% (95% CI: 14.0 - 28.1%), based on 13 included studies, and the proportion of children with severe or critical symptoms was 3.8% (95% CI: 1.5 - 6.0%), based on 14 included studies. We did not identify any studies designed to assess transmissibility in children and found that susceptibility to infection in children was highly variable across studies.Conclusions: Children’s susceptibility to infection and onward transmissibility relative to adults is still unclear and varied widely between studies. However, it is evident that most children e
Watson O, Alhaffar M, Mehchy Z, et al., 2021, Leveraging community mortality indicators to infer COVID-19 mortality and transmission dynamics in Damascus, Syria, Nature Communications, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2041-1723
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial mortality worldwide. However, to date, countries in the Middle East and Africa have reported considerably lower mortality rates than in Europe and the Americas. Motivated by reports of an overwhelmed health system, we estimate the likely under-ascertainment of COVID-19 mortality in Damascus, Syria. Using all-cause mortality data, we fit a mathematical model of COVID-19 transmission to reported mortality, estimating that 1.25% of COVID-19 deaths (sensitivity range 1.00% – 3.00%) have been reported as of 2 September 2020. By 2 September, we estimate that 4,380 (95% CI: 3,250 – 5,550) COVID-19 deaths in Damascus may have been missed, with 39.0% (95% CI: 32.5% – 45.0%) of the population in Damascus estimated to have been infected. Accounting for under-ascertainment corroborates reports of exceeded hospital bed capacity and is validated by community-uploaded obituary notifications, which confirm extensive unreported mortality in Damascus.
BackgroundThere is concern about the risk of yellow fever (YF) establishment in Asia, owing to rising numbers of urban outbreaks in endemic countries and globalisation. Following an outbreak in Angola in 2016, YF cases were introduced into China. Prior to this, YF had never been recorded in Asia, despite climatic suitability and the presence of mosquitoes. An outbreak in Asia could result in widespread fatalities and huge economic impact. Therefore, quantifying the potential risk of YF outbreaks in Asia is a public health priority.MethodsUsing international flight data and YF incidence estimates from 2016, we quantified the risk of YF introduction via air travel into Asia. In locations with evidence of a competent mosquito population, the potential for autochthonous YF transmission was estimated using a temperature-dependent model of the reproduction number and a branching process model assuming a negative binomial distribution.ResultsIn total, 25 cities across Asia were estimated to be at risk of receiving at least one YF viraemic traveller during 2016. At their average temperatures, we estimated the probability of autochthonous transmission to be <50% in all cities, which was primarily due to the limited number of estimated introductions that year.ConclusionDespite the rise in air travel, we found low support for travel patterns between YF endemic countries and Asia resulting in autochthonous transmission during 2016. This supports the historic absence of YF in Asia and suggests it could be due to a limited number of introductions in previous years. Future increases in travel volumes or YF incidence can increase the number of introductions and the risk of autochthonous transmission. Given the high proportion of asymptomatic or mild infections and the challenges of YF surveillance, our model can be used to estimate the introduction and outbreak risk and can provide useful information to surveillance systems.
van Elsland S, Imai N, on behalf of the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, 2021, Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team 2020-2021 Report, Publisher: Imperial College London
Unwin HJT, Cori A, Imai N, et al., 2021, Using next generation matrices to estimate the proportion of infections that are not detected in an outbreak
<jats:p>Contact tracing, where exposed individuals are followed up to break ongoing transmission chains, is a key pillar of outbreak response for infectious disease outbreaks. Unfortunately, these systems are not fully effective, and infections can still go undetected as people may not remember all their contacts or contacts may not be traced successfully. A large proportion of undetected infections suggests poor contact tracing and surveillance systems, which could be a potential area of improvement for a disease response. In this paper, we present a method for estimating the proportion of infections that are not detected during an outbreak. Our method uses next generation matrices that are parameterized by linked contact tracing data and case line-lists. We validate the method using simulated data from an individual-based model and then investigate two case studies: the proportion of undetected infections in the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in New Zealand during 2020 and the Ebola epidemic in Guinea during 2014. We estimate that only 5.26% of SARS-CoV-2 infections were not detected in New Zealand during 2020 (95% credible interval: 0.243 – 16.0%) but depending on assumptions 39.0% or 37.7% of Ebola infections were not detected in Guinea (95% credible intervals: 1.69 – 87.0% or 1.7 – 80.9%).</jats:p>
Gaythorpe K, Morris A, Imai N, et al., 2021, chainchecker: an application to visualise and explore transmission chains for Ebola virus disease, PLoS One, ISSN: 1932-6203
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have sought to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission by restricting population movement through social distancing interventions, thus reducing the number of contacts.Mobility data represent an important proxy measure of social distancing, and here, we characterise the relationship between transmission and mobility for 52 countries around the world.Transmission significantly decreased with the initial reduction in mobility in 73% of the countries analysed, but we found evidence of decoupling of transmission and mobility following the relaxation of strict control measures for 80% of countries. For the majority of countries, mobility explained a substantial proportion of the variation in transmissibility (median adjusted R-squared: 48%, interquartile range - IQR - across countries [27-77%]). Where a change in the relationship occurred, predictive ability decreased after the relaxation; from a median adjusted R-squared of 74% (IQR across countries [49-91%]) pre-relaxation, to a median adjusted R-squared of 30% (IQR across countries [12-48%]) post-relaxation.In countries with a clear relationship between mobility and transmission both before and after strict control measures were relaxed, mobility was associated with lower transmission rates after control measures were relaxed indicating that the beneficial effects of ongoing social distancing behaviours were substantial.
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.
Knock E, Whittles L, Lees J, et al., 2020, Report 41: The 2020 SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in England: key epidemiological drivers and impact of interventions
England has been severely affected by COVID-19. We fitted a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in care homes and the community to regional 2020 surveillance data. Only national lockdown brought the reproduction number below 1 consistently; introduced one week earlier in the first wave it could have reduced mortality by 23,300 deaths on average. The mean infection fatality ratio was initially ~1.3% across all regions except London and halved following clinical care improvements. The infection fatality ratio was two-fold lower throughout in London, even when adjusting for demographics. The infection fatality ratio in care homes was 2.5-times that in the elderly in the community. Population-level infection-induced immunity in England is still far from herd immunity, with regional mean cumulative attack rates ranging between 4.4% and 15.8%.
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.
Gaythorpe K, Bhatia S, Mangal T, et al., 2020, Report 37: Children’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review of early surveillance data on susceptibility, severity, and transmissibility
SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in all age groups including infants, children, and adolescents. However, the role of children in the COVID-19 pandemic is still uncertain. This systematic review of early studies synthesises evidence on the susceptibility of children to SARS-CoV-2 infection, the severity and clinical outcomes in children with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 by children. A systematic literature review was conducted in PubMed. Reviewers extracted data from relevant, peer-reviewed studies published during the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak using a standardised form and assessed quality using the NIH Quality Assessment Tool for Observational Cohort and Cross-Sectional Studies. For studies included in the meta-analysis, we used a random effects model to calculate pooled estimates of the proportion of children considered asymptomatic or in a severe or critical state. We identified 2,775 potential studies of which 128 studies met our inclusion criteria; data were extracted from 99, which were then quality assessed. Finally, 29 studies were considered for the meta-analysis that included information of symptoms and/or severity, these were further assessed based on patient recruitment. Our pooled estimate of the proportion of test positive children who were asymptomatic was 21.1% (95% CI: 14.0 - 28.1%), based on 13 included studies, and the proportion of children with severe or critical symptoms was 3.8% (95% CI: 1.5 - 6.0%), based on 14 included studies. We did not identify any studies designed to assess transmissibility in children and found that susceptibility to infection in children was highly variable across studies.Children’s susceptibility to infection and onward transmissibility relative to adults is still unclear and varied widely between studies. However, it is evident that most children experience clinically mild disease or remain asymptomatically infected. More comprehensive contact-tracing studie
Biggerstaff M, Cowling BJ, Cucunubá ZM, et al., 2020, Early insights from statistical and mathematical modeling of key epidemiologic parameters of COVID-19, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol: 26, ISSN: 1080-6040
We report key epidemiologic parameter estimates for coronavirus disease identified in peer-reviewed publications, preprint articles, and online reports. Range estimates for incubation period were 1.8–6.9 days, serial interval 4.0–7.5 days, and doubling time 2.3–7.4 days. The effective reproductive number varied widely, with reductions attributable to interventions. Case burden and infection fatality ratios increased with patient age. Implementation of combined interventions could reduce cases and delay epidemic peak up to 1 month. These parameters for transmission, disease severity, and intervention effectiveness are critical for guiding policy decisions. Estimates will likely change as new information becomes available.
Djaafara B, Imai N, Hamblion E, et al., 2020, A quantitative framework for defining the end of an infectious disease outbreak: application to Ebola virus disease, American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol: 190, Pages: 642-651, ISSN: 0002-9262
The end-of-outbreak declaration is an important step in controlling infectious disease outbreaks. Objective estimation of the confidence level that an outbreak is over is important to reduce the risk of postdeclaration flare-ups. We developed a simulation-based model with which to quantify that confidence and tested it on simulated Ebola virus disease data. We found that these confidence estimates were most sensitive to the instantaneous reproduction number, the reporting rate, and the time between the symptom onset and death or recovery of the last detected case. For Ebola virus disease, our results suggested that the current World Health Organization criterion of 42 days since the recovery or death of the last detected case is too short and too sensitive to underreporting. Therefore, we suggest a shift to a preliminary end-of-outbreak declaration after 63 days from the symptom onset day of the last detected case. This preliminary declaration should still be followed by 90 days of enhanced surveillance to capture potential flare-ups of cases, after which the official end of the outbreak can be declared. This sequence corresponds to more than 95% confidence that an outbreak is over in most of the scenarios examined. Our framework is generic and therefore could be adapted to estimate end-of-outbreak confidence for other infectious diseases.
Dighe A, Cattarino L, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, et al., 2020, Response to COVID-19 in South Korea and implications for lifting stringent interventions, BMC Medicine, Vol: 18, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 1741-7015
Background After experiencing a sharp growth in COVID-19 cases early in the pandemic, South Korea rapidly controlled transmission while implementing less stringent national social distancing measures than countries in Europe and the US. This has led to substantial interest in their “test, trace, isolate” strategy. However, it is important to understand the epidemiological peculiarities of South Korea’s outbreak and characterise their response before attempting to emulate these measures elsewhere.MethodsWe systematically extracted numbers of suspected cases tested, PCR-confirmed cases, deaths, isolated confirmed cases, and numbers of confirmed cases with an identified epidemiological link from publicly available data. We estimated the time-varying reproduction number, Rt, using an established Bayesian framework, and reviewed the package of interventions implemented by South Korea using our extracted data, plus published literature and government sources. Results We estimated that after the initial rapid growth in cases, Rt dropped below one in early April before increasing to a maximum of 1.94 (95%CrI; 1.64-2.27) in May following outbreaks in Seoul Metropolitan Region. By mid-June Rt was back below one where it remained until the end of our study (July 13th). Despite less stringent “lockdown” measures, strong social distancing measures were implemented in high incidence areas and studies measured a considerable national decrease in movement in late-February. Testing capacity was swiftly increased, and protocols were in place to isolate suspected and confirmed cases quickly however we could not estimate the delay to isolation using our data. Accounting for just 10% of cases, individual case-based contact-tracing picked up a relatively minor proportion of total cases, with cluster investigations accounting for 66%. ConclusionsWhilst early adoption of testing and contact-tracing are likely to be important for South Korea’s successf
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fu H, Xi X, Wang H, et al., 2020, Report 30: The COVID-19 epidemic trends and control measures in mainland China
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