Imperial College London

Professor Neil Ferguson

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Vice-Dean (Academic Development)
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 3296neil.ferguson Website

 
 
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Location

 

Medical SchoolSt Mary's Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

373 results found

Laydon DJ, Cauchemez S, Hinsley WR, Bhatt S, Ferguson NMet al., 2022, Prophylactic and reactive vaccination strategies for healthcare workers against MERS-CoV

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Several vaccines candidates are in development against Middle East respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which remains a major public health concern. Using individual-level data on the 2013-2014 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia epidemic, we employ counterfactual analysis on inferred transmission trees (“who-infected-whom”) to assess potential vaccine impact. We investigate the conditions under which prophylactic “proactive” campaigns would outperform “reactive” campaigns (i.e. vaccinating either before or in response to the next outbreak), focussing on healthcare workers. Spatial scale is crucial: if vaccinating healthcare workers in response to outbreaks at their hospital only, proactive campaigns perform better, unless efficacy has waned significantly. However, campaigns that react at regional or national level consistently outperform proactive campaigns. Measures targeting the animal reservoir reduce transmission linearly, albeit with wide uncertainty. Substantial reduction of MERS-CoV morbidity and mortality is possible when vaccinating healthcare workers, underlining the need for at-risk countries to stockpile vaccines when available.</jats:p>

Journal article

Nyberg T, Ferguson NM, Nash SG, Webster HH, Flaxman S, Andrews N, Hinsley W, Bernal JL, Kall M, Bhatt S, Blomquist P, Zaidi A, Volz E, Aziz NA, Harman K, Funk S, Abbott S, COVID-19 Genomics UK COG-UK consortium, Hope R, Charlett A, Chand M, Ghani AC, Seaman SR, Dabrera G, De Angelis D, Presanis AM, Thelwall Set al., 2022, Comparative analysis of the risks of hospitalisation and death associated with SARS-CoV-2 omicron (B.1.1.529) and delta (B.1.617.2) variants in England: a cohort study., Lancet, Vol: 399, Pages: 1303-1312

BACKGROUND: The omicron variant (B.1.1.529) of SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated partial vaccine escape and high transmissibility, with early studies indicating lower severity of infection than that of the delta variant (B.1.617.2). We aimed to better characterise omicron severity relative to delta by assessing the relative risk of hospital attendance, hospital admission, or death in a large national cohort. METHODS: Individual-level data on laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases resident in England between Nov 29, 2021, and Jan 9, 2022, were linked to routine datasets on vaccination status, hospital attendance and admission, and mortality. The relative risk of hospital attendance or admission within 14 days, or death within 28 days after confirmed infection, was estimated using proportional hazards regression. Analyses were stratified by test date, 10-year age band, ethnicity, residential region, and vaccination status, and were further adjusted for sex, index of multiple deprivation decile, evidence of a previous infection, and year of age within each age band. A secondary analysis estimated variant-specific and vaccine-specific vaccine effectiveness and the intrinsic relative severity of omicron infection compared with delta (ie, the relative risk in unvaccinated cases). FINDINGS: The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of hospital attendance (not necessarily resulting in admission) with omicron compared with delta was 0·56 (95% CI 0·54-0·58); for hospital admission and death, HR estimates were 0·41 (0·39-0·43) and 0·31 (0·26-0·37), respectively. Omicron versus delta HR estimates varied with age for all endpoints examined. The adjusted HR for hospital admission was 1·10 (0·85-1·42) in those younger than 10 years, decreasing to 0·25 (0·21-0·30) in 60-69-year-olds, and then increasing to 0·47 (0·40-0·56) in those aged at least 80 years. For both variants, pas

Journal article

Killingley B, Mann AJ, Kalinova M, Boyers A, Goonawardane N, Zhou J, Lindsell K, Hare SS, Brown J, Frise R, Smith E, Hopkins C, Noulin N, Londt B, Wilkinson T, Harden S, McShane H, Baillet M, Gilbert A, Jacobs M, Charman C, Mande P, Nguyen-Van-Tam JS, Semple MG, Read RC, Ferguson NM, Openshaw PJ, Rapeport G, Barclay WS, Catchpole AP, Chiu Cet al., 2022, Safety, tolerability and viral kinetics during SARS-CoV-2 human challenge in young adults, Nature Medicine, Pages: 1-27, ISSN: 1078-8956

Since its emergence in 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused hundreds of millions of cases and continues to circulate globally. To establish a novel SARS-CoV-2 human challenge model that enables controlled investigation of pathogenesis, correlates of protection and efficacy testing of forthcoming interventions, 36 volunteers aged 18–29 years without evidence of previous infection or vaccination were inoculated with 10 TCID50 of a wild-type virus (SARS-CoV-2/human/GBR/484861/2020) intranasally in an open-label, non-randomized study (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT04865237; funder, UK Vaccine Taskforce). After inoculation, participants were housed in a high-containment quarantine unit, with 24-hour close medical monitoring and full access to higher-level clinical care. The study’s primary objective was to identify an inoculum dose that induced well-tolerated infection in more than 50% of participants, with secondary objectives to assess virus and symptom kinetics during infection. All pre-specified primary and secondary objectives were met. Two participants were excluded from the per-protocol analysis owing to seroconversion between screening and inoculation, identified post hoc. Eighteen (~53%) participants became infected, with viral load (VL) rising steeply and peaking at ~5 days after inoculation. Virus was first detected in the throat but rose to significantly higher levels in the nose, peaking at ~8.87 log10 copies per milliliter (median, 95% confidence interval (8.41, 9.53)). Viable virus was recoverable from the nose up to ~10 days after inoculation, on average. There were no serious adverse events. Mild-to-moderate symptoms were reported by 16 (89%) infected participants, beginning 2–4 days after inoculation, whereas two (11%) participants remained asymptomatic (no reportable symptoms). Anosmia or dysosmia developed more slowly in 15 (83%) participants. No quantitative cor

Journal article

Green WD, Ferguson NM, Cori A, 2022, Inferring the reproduction number using the renewal equation in heterogeneous epidemics, JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE, Vol: 19, ISSN: 1742-5689

Journal article

Haw D, Forchini G, Doohan P, Christen P, Pianella M, Johnson R, Bajaj S, Hogan A, Winskill P, Miraldo M, White P, Ghani A, Ferguson N, Smith P, Hauck Ket al., 2022, Optimizing social and economic activity while containing SARS-CoV-2 transmission using DAEDALUS, Nature Computational Science, ISSN: 2662-8457

Journal article

Andrews N, Stowe J, Kirsebom F, Toffa S, Rickeard T, Gallagher E, Gower C, Kall M, Groves N, O'connell A-M, Simons D, Blomquist PB, Zaidi A, Nash S, Aziz NIBA, Thelwall S, Dabrera G, Myers R, Amirthalingam G, Gharbia S, Barrett JC, Elson R, Ladhani SN, Ferguson N, Zambon M, Campbell CNJ, Brown K, Hopkins S, Chand M, Ramsay M, Bernal JLet al., 2022, Covid-19 Vaccine Effectiveness against the Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant, NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, ISSN: 0028-4793

Journal article

Imai N, Gaythorpe KAM, Bhatia S, Mangal TD, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Unwin HJT, Jauneikaite E, Ferguson NMet 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 &lt;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

Working paper

Singanayagam A, Hakki S, Dunning J, Madon KJ, Crone MA, Koycheva A, Derqui-Fernandez N, Barnett JL, Whitfield MG, Varro R, Charlett A, Kundu R, Fenn J, Cutajar J, Quinn V, Conibear E, Barclay W, Freemont PS, Taylor GP, Ahmad S, Zambon M, Ferguson NM, Lalvani A, Badhan A, Dustan S, Tejpal C, Ketkar AV, Narean JS, Hammett S, McDermott E, Pillay T, Houston H, Luca C, Samuel J, Bremang S, Evetts S, Poh J, Anderson C, Jackson D, Miah S, Ellis J, Lackenby Aet al., 2022, Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 22, Pages: 183-195, ISSN: 1473-3099

BackgroundThe SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant is highly transmissible and spreading globally, including in populations with high vaccination rates. We aimed to investigate transmission and viral load kinetics in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals with mild delta variant infection in the community.MethodsBetween Sept 13, 2020, and Sept 15, 2021, 602 community contacts (identified via the UK contract-tracing system) of 471 UK COVID-19 index cases were recruited to the Assessment of Transmission and Contagiousness of COVID-19 in Contacts cohort study and contributed 8145 upper respiratory tract samples from daily sampling for up to 20 days. Household and non-household exposed contacts aged 5 years or older were eligible for recruitment if they could provide informed consent and agree to self-swabbing of the upper respiratory tract. We analysed transmission risk by vaccination status for 231 contacts exposed to 162 epidemiologically linked delta variant-infected index cases. We compared viral load trajectories from fully vaccinated individuals with delta infection (n=29) with unvaccinated individuals with delta (n=16), alpha (B.1.1.7; n=39), and pre-alpha (n=49) infections. Primary outcomes for the epidemiological analysis were to assess the secondary attack rate (SAR) in household contacts stratified by contact vaccination status and the index cases’ vaccination status. Primary outcomes for the viral load kinetics analysis were to detect differences in the peak viral load, viral growth rate, and viral decline rate between participants according to SARS-CoV-2 variant and vaccination status.FindingsThe SAR in household contacts exposed to the delta variant was 25% (95% CI 18–33) for fully vaccinated individuals compared with 38% (24–53) in unvaccinated individuals. The median time between second vaccine dose and study recruitment in fully vaccinated contacts was longer for infected individuals (median 101 days [IQR 74–120]) than for unin

Journal article

Hogan AB, Wu SL, Doohan P, Watson OJ, Winskill P, Charles G, Barnsley G, Riley EM, Khoury DS, Ferguson NM, Ghani ACet al., 2022, The value of vaccine booster doses to mitigate the global impact of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Vaccines have played a central role in mitigating severe disease and death from COVID-19 in the past 12 months. However, efficacy wanes over time and this loss of protection is being compounded by the emergence of the Omicron variant. By fitting an immunological model to population-level vaccine effectiveness data, we estimate that neutralizing antibody titres for Omicron are reduced by 3.9-fold (95% CrI 2.9–5.5) compared to the Delta variant. Under this model, we predict that 90 days after boosting with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, efficacy against severe disease (admission to hospital) declines to 95.9% (95% CrI 95.4%–96.3%) against the Delta variant and 78.8% (95% CrI 75.0%–85.1%) against the Omicron variant. Integrating this immunological model within a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, we demonstrate that the size of the Omicron wave will depend on the degree of past exposure to infection across the population, with relatively small Omicron waves in countries that previously experienced a large Delta wave. We show that booster doses can have a major impact in mitigating the epidemic peak, although in many settings it remains possible that healthcare capacity could still be challenged. This is particularly the case in “zero-COVID” countries where there is little prior infection-induced immunity and therefore epidemic peaks will be higher. Where dose supply is limited, targeting boosters to the highest risk groups to ensure continued high protection in the face of waning immunity is of greater benefit than giving these doses as primary vaccination to younger age-groups. In many settings it is likely that health systems will be stretched, and it may therefore be necessary to maintain and/or reintroduce some level of NPIs to mitigate the worst impacts of the Omicron variant as it replaces the Delta variant.</jats:p>

Journal article

Lalvani A, Hakki S, Singanayagam A, Dunning J, Barnett JL, Crone MA, Freemont PS, Ferguson NMet al., 2022, Transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 among fully vaccinated individuals reply, LANCET INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol: 22, Pages: 18-19, ISSN: 1473-3099

Journal article

Hogan A, Wu SL, Doohan P, Watson OJ, Winskill P, Charles G, Riley EM, Khoury D, Ferguson N, Ghani Aet al., 2021, Report 48: The value of vaccine booster doses to mitigate the global impact of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant

Vaccines have played a central role in mitigating severe disease and death from COVID-19 in the past 12 months. However, efficacy wanes over time and this loss of protection will be compounded by the emergence of the Omicron variant. By fitting an immunological model to population-level vaccine effectiveness data, we estimate that neutralizing antibody titres for Omicron are reduced by 4.5-fold (95% CrI 3.1–7.1) compared to the Delta variant. This is predicted to result in a drop in vaccine efficacy against severe disease (hospitalisation) from 96.5% (95% CrI 96.1%–96.8%) against Delta to 80.1% (95% CrI 76.3%–83.2%) against Omicron for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster by 60 days post boost if NAT decay at the same rate following boosting as following the primary course, and from 97.6% (95% CrI 97.4%-97.9%) against Delta to 85.9% (95% CrI 83.1%-88.3%) against Omicron if NAT decay at half the rate observed after the primary course. Integrating this immunological model within a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, we show that booster doses will be critical to mitigate the impact of future Omicron waves in countries with high levels of circulating virus. They will also be needed in “zero-COVID” countries where there is little prior infection-induced immunity in order to open up safely. Where dose supply is limited, targeting boosters to the highest risk groups to ensure continued high protection in the face of waning immunity is of greater benefit than giving these doses as primary vaccination to younger age-groups. In all scenarios it is likely that health systems will be stretched. It may be essential, therefore, to maintain and/or reintroduce NPIs to mitigate the worst impacts of the Omicron variant as it replaces the Delta variant. Ultimately, Omicron variant-specific vaccines are likely to be required.

Report

McCabe R, Kont MD, Watson O, Schmit N, Whittaker C, Lochen A, Walker PGT, Ghani AC, Ferguson NM, White PJ, Donnelly CA, Watson OJet al., 2021, Communicating uncertainty in epidemic models, Epidemics: the journal of infectious disease dynamics, Vol: 37, Pages: 1-6, ISSN: 1755-4365

While mathematical models of disease transmission are widely used to inform public health decision-makers globally, the uncertainty inherent in results are often poorly communicated. We outline some potential sources of uncertainty in epidemic models, present traditional methods used to illustrate uncertainty and discuss alternative presentation formats used by modelling groups throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, by drawing on the experience of our own recent modelling, we seek to contribute to the ongoing discussion of how to improve upon traditional methods used to visualise uncertainty by providing a suggestion of how this can be presented in a clear and simple manner.

Journal article

Houston H, Hakki S, Pillay TD, Madon K, Derqui-Fernandez N, Koycheva A, Singanayagam A, Fenn J, Kundu R, Conibear E, Varro R, Cutajar J, Quinn V, Wang L, Narean JS, Tolosa-Wright MR, Barnett J, Kon OM, Tedder R, Taylor G, Zambon M, Ferguson N, Dunning J, Deeks JJ, Lalvani Aet al., 2021, Broadening symptom criteria improves early case identification in SARS-CoV-2 contacts., Eur Respir J

INTRODUCTION: The success of case isolation and contact tracing for the control of SARS-CoV-2 transmission depends on the accuracy and speed of case identification. We assessed whether inclusion of additional symptoms alongside three canonical symptoms (CS) - fever; cough; loss or change in smell or taste - could improve case definitions and accelerate case identification in SARS-CoV-2 contacts. METHODS: Two prospective longitudinal London-based cohorts of community SARS-CoV-2 contacts, recruited within 5 days of exposure, provided independent training and test datasets. Infected and uninfected contacts completed daily symptom diaries from the earliest possible time-points. Diagnostic information gained by adding symptoms to the CS was quantified using likelihood ratios and AUC-ROC. Improvements in sensitivity and time-to-detection were compared to penalties in terms of specificity and number-needed-to-test. RESULTS: Of 529 contacts within two cohorts, 164 (31%) developed PCR-confirmed infection and 365 (69%) remained uninfected. In the training dataset (n=168), 29% of infected contacts did not report the CS. Four symptoms (sore throat, muscle aches, headache and appetite loss) were identified as early-predictors (EP) which added diagnostic value to the CS. The broadened symptom criterion "≥1 of the CS, or ≥2 of the EP" identified PCR-positive contacts in the test dataset on average 2 days earlier after exposure (p=0.07) than "≥1 of the CS", with only modest reduction in specificity (5.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Broadening symptom criteria to include individuals with at least 2 of muscle aches, headache, appetite loss and sore throat identifies more infections and reduces time-to-detection, providing greater opportunities to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Journal article

Sonabend R, Whittles LK, Imai N, Perez Guzman PN, Knock E, Rawson T, Gaythorpe KA, Djaafara A, Hinsley W, Fitzjohn R, Lees JA, Thekke Kanapram D, Volz E, Ghani A, Ferguson NM, Baguelin M, Cori Aet 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

Journal article

Echeverria-Londono S, Li X, Toor J, de Villiers MJ, Nayagam S, Hallett TB, Abbas K, Jit M, Klepac P, Jean K, Garske T, Ferguson NM, Gaythorpe KAMet al., 2021, How can the public health impact of vaccination be estimated?, BMC PUBLIC HEALTH, Vol: 21

Journal article

Williams LR, Ferguson NM, Donnelly CA, Grassly NCet al., 2021, Measuring vaccine efficacy against infection and disease in clinical trials: sources and magnitude of bias in COVID-19 vaccine efficacy estimates, Clinical Infectious Diseases, ISSN: 1058-4838

BACKGROUND: Phase III trials have estimated COVID-19 vaccine efficacy (VE) against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection. We explore the direction and magnitude of potential biases in these estimates and their implications for vaccine protection against infection and against disease in breakthrough infections. METHODS: We developed a mathematical model that accounts for natural and vaccine-induced immunity, changes in serostatus and imperfect sensitivity and specificity of tests for infection and antibodies. We estimated expected biases in VE against symptomatic, asymptomatic and any SARS͏CoV2 infections and against disease following infection for a range of vaccine characteristics and measurement approaches, and the likely overall biases for published trial results that included asymptomatic infections. RESULTS: VE against asymptomatic infection measured by PCR or serology is expected to be low or negative for vaccines that prevent disease but not infection. VE against any infection is overestimated when asymptomatic infections are less likely to be detected than symptomatic infections and the vaccine protects against symptom development. A competing bias towards underestimation arises for estimates based on tests with imperfect specificity, especially when testing is performed frequently. Our model indicates considerable uncertainty in Oxford-AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 and Janssen Ad26.COV2.S VE against any infection, with slightly higher than published, bias-adjusted values of 59.0% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 38.4 to 77.1) and 70.9% (95% UI 49.8 to 80.7) respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple biases are likely to influence COVID-19 VE estimates, potentially explaining the observed difference between ChAdOx1 and Ad26.COV2.S vaccines. These biases should be considered when interpreting both efficacy and effectiveness study results.

Journal article

Whittaker C, Walker PGT, Alhaffar M, Hamlet A, Djaafara BA, Ghani A, Ferguson N, Dahab M, Checchi F, Watson OJet al., 2021, Under-reporting of deaths limits our understanding of true burden of covid-19, BMJ-BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, Vol: 375, ISSN: 0959-535X

Journal article

Vollmer MAC, Radhakrishnan S, Kont MD, Flaxman S, Bhatt SJ, Costelloe C, Honeyford K, Aylin P, Cooke G, Redhead J, Sanders A, Mangan H, White PJ, Ferguson N, Hauck K, Perez Guzman PN, Nayagam Set al., 2021, The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patterns of attendance at emergency departments in two large London hospitals: an observational study, BMC Health Services Research, Vol: 21, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 1472-6963

Background Hospitals in England have undergone considerable change to address the surgein demand imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of this on emergencydepartment (ED) attendances is unknown, especially for non-COVID-19 related emergencies.Methods This analysis is an observational study of ED attendances at the Imperial CollegeHealthcare NHS Trust (ICHNT). We calibrated auto-regressive integrated moving averagetime-series models of ED attendances using historic (2015-2019) data. Forecasted trendswere compared to present year ICHNT data for the period between March 12, 2020 (whenEngland implemented the first COVID-19 public health measure) and May 31, 2020. Wecompared ICHTN trends with publicly available regional and national data. Lastly, wecompared hospital admissions made via the ED and in-hospital mortality at ICHNT duringthe present year to the historic 5-year average.Results ED attendances at ICHNT decreased by 35% during the period after the firstlockdown was imposed on March 12, 2020 and before May 31, 2020, reflecting broadertrends seen for ED attendances across all England regions, which fell by approximately 50%for the same time frame. For ICHNT, the decrease in attendances was mainly amongst thoseaged <65 years and those arriving by their own means (e.g. personal or public transport) andnot correlated with any of the spatial dependencies analysed such as increasing distance frompostcode of residence to the hospital. Emergency admissions of patients without COVID-19after March 12, 2020 fell by 48%; we did not observe a significant change to the crudemortality risk in patients without COVID-19 (RR 1.13, 95%CI 0.94-1.37, p=0.19).Conclusions Our study findings reflect broader trends seen across England and give anindication how emergency healthcare seeking has drastically changed. At ICHNT, we findthat a larger proportion arrived by ambulance and that hospitalisation outcomes of patientswithout COVID-19 did not differ from previous years. The ext

Journal article

DAeth J, Ghosal S, Grimm F, Haw D, Koca E, Lau K, Moret S, Rizmie D, Deeny S, Perez-Guzman P, Ferguson N, Hauck K, Smith P, Forchini G, Wiesemann W, Miraldo Met al., 2021, Optimal national prioritization policies for hospital care during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Nature Computational Science, Vol: 1, Pages: 521-531, ISSN: 2662-8457

In response to unprecedent surges in the demand for hospital care during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, health systems have prioritized COVID patients to life-saving hospital care to the detriment of other patients. In contrast to these ad hoc policies, we develop a linear programming framework to optimally schedule elective procedures and allocate hospital beds among all planned and emergency patients to minimize years of life lost. Leveraging a large dataset of administrative patient medical records, we apply our framework to the National Health System in England and show that an extra 50,750-5,891,608 years of life can be gained in comparison to prioritization policies that reflect those implemented during the pandemic. Significant health gains are observed for neoplasms, diseases of the digestive system, and injuries & poisoning. Our open-source framework provides a computationally efficient approximation of a large-scale discrete optimization problem that can be applied globally to support national-level care prioritization policies.

Journal article

Bhatia S, Parag K, Wardle J, Imai N, Elsland SV, Lassmann B, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Jauneikaite E, Unwin HJ, Riley S, Ferguson N, Donnelly C, Cori A, Nouvellet Pet 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>

Journal article

Dorigatti I, Lavezzo E, Manuto L, Ciavarella C, Pacenti M, Boldrin C, Cattai M, Saluzzo F, Franchin E, Del Vecchio C, Caldart F, Castelli G, Nicoletti M, Nieddu E, Salvadoretti E, Labella B, Fava L, Guglielmo S, Fascina M, Grazioli M, Alvisi G, Vanuzzo MC, Zupo T, Calandrin R, Lisi V, Rossi L, Castagliuolo I, Merigliano S, Unwin HJT, Plebani M, Padoan A, Brazzale AR, Toppo S, Ferguson NM, Donnelly CA, Crisanti Aet al., 2021, SARS-CoV-2 antibody dynamics and transmission from community-wide serological testing in the Italian municipality of Vo' (vol 12, 4383, 2021), NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 12

Journal article

Mishra S, Scott JA, Laydon DJ, Flaxman S, Gandy A, Mellan TA, Unwin HJT, Vollmer M, Coupland H, Ratmann O, Monod M, Zhu HH, Cori A, Gaythorpe KAM, Whittles LK, Whittaker C, Donnelly CA, Ferguson NM, Bhatt Set al., 2021, Comparing the responses of the UK, Sweden and Denmark to COVID-19 using counterfactual modelling, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 2045-2322

The UK and Sweden have among the worst per-capita COVID-19 mortality in Europe. Sweden stands out for its greater reliance on voluntary, rather than mandatory, control measures. We explore how the timing and effectiveness of control measures in the UK, Sweden and Denmark shaped COVID-19 mortality in each country, using a counterfactual assessment: what would the impact have been, had each country adopted the others’ policies? Using a Bayesian semi-mechanistic model without prior assumptions on the mechanism or effectiveness of interventions, we estimate the time-varying reproduction number for the UK, Sweden and Denmark from daily mortality data. We use two approaches to evaluate counterfactuals which transpose the transmission profile from one country onto another, in each country’s first wave from 13th March (when stringent interventions began) until 1st July 2020. UK mortality would have approximately doubled had Swedish policy been adopted, while Swedish mortality would have more than halved had Sweden adopted UK or Danish strategies. Danish policies were most effective, although differences between the UK and Denmark were significant for one counterfactual approach only. Our analysis shows that small changes in the timing or effectiveness of interventions have disproportionately large effects on total mortality within a rapidly growing epidemic.

Journal article

Ohrnberger J, Segal A, Forchini G, Miraldo M, Skarp J, Nedjati-Gilani G, Laydon D, Ghani A, Ferguson N, Hauck Ket al., 2021, The impact of a COVID-19 lockdown on work productivity under good and poor compliance, European Journal of Public Health, Vol: 31, Pages: 1009-1015, ISSN: 1101-1262

BackgroundIn response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments across the globe have imposed strict social distancing measures. Public compliance to such measures is essential for their success yet the economic consequences of compliance are unknown. This is the first study to analyse the effects of good compliance compared to poor compliance to a COVID-19 suppression strategy (i.e. lockdown) on work productivity. MethodsWe estimate the differences in work productivity comparing a scenario of good compliance with one of poor compliance to the UK government COVID-19 suppression strategy. We use projections of the impact of the UK suppression strategy on mortality and morbidity from an individual-based epidemiological model combined with an economic model representative of the labour force in Wales and England. ResultsWe find that productivity effects of good compliance significantly exceed those of poor compliance and increase with the duration of the lockdown. After three months of the lockdown, work productivity in good compliance is £398.58 million higher compared with that of poor compliance. 75% of the differences is explained by productivity effects due to morbidity and non-health reasons and 25% attributed to avoided losses due to pre-mature mortality.ConclusionGood compliance to social distancing measures exceeds positive economic effects, in addition to health benefits. This is an important finding for current economic and health policy. It highlights the importance to set clear guidelines for the public, to build trust and support for the rules and if necessary, to enforce good compliance to social distancing measures.

Journal article

Thompson H, Mousa A, Dighe A, Fu H, Arnedo-Pena A, Barrett P, Bellido-Blasco J, Bi Q, Caputi A, Chaw L, De Maria L, Hoffmann M, Mahapure K, Hg K, Raghuram J, Singh G, Soman B, Soriano V, Valent F, Vimercati L, En Wee L, Wong J, Ghani A, Ferguson Net al., 2021, SARS-CoV-2 setting-specific transmission rates: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol: 73, Pages: e754-e764, ISSN: 1058-4838

Background Understanding the drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is crucial for control policies but evidence of transmission rates in different settings remains limited. MethodsWe conducted a systematic review to estimate secondary attack rates (SAR) and observed reproduction numbers (Robs) in different settings exploring differences by age, symptom status, and duration of exposure. To account for additional study heterogeneity, we employed a Beta-Binomial model to pool SARs across studies and a Negative-binomial model to estimate Robs. ResultsHouseholds showed the highest transmission rates, with a pooled SAR of 21.1% (95%CI:17.4%-24.8%). SARs were significantly higher where the duration of household exposure exceeded 5 days compared with exposure of ≤5 days. SARs related to contacts at social events with family and friends were higher than those for low-risk casual contacts (5.9% vs. 1.2%). Estimates of SAR and Robs for asymptomatic index cases were approximately a seventh, and for pre-symptomatic two thirds of those for symptomatic index cases. We found some evidence for reduced transmission potential both from and to individuals under 20 years of age in the household context, which is more limited when examining all settings.ConclusionsOur results suggest that exposure in settings with familiar contacts increases SARS-CoV-2 transmission potential. Additionally, the differences observed in transmissibility by index case symptom status and duration of exposure have important implications for control strategies such as contact tracing, testing and rapid isolation of cases. There was limited data to explore transmission patterns in workplaces, schools, and care-homes, highlighting the need for further research in such settings.

Journal article

Mishra S, Mindermann S, Sharma M, Whittaker C, Mellan TA, Wilton T, Klapsa D, Mate R, Fritzsche M, Zambon M, Ahuja J, Howes A, Miscouridou X, Nason GP, Ratmann O, Semenova E, Leech G, Sandkuehler JF, Rogers-Smith C, Vollmer M, Unwin HJT, Gal Y, Chand M, Gandy A, Martin J, Volz E, Ferguson NM, Bhatt S, Brauner JM, Flaxman Set al., 2021, Changing composition of SARS-CoV-2 lineages and rise of Delta variant in England, ECLINICALMEDICINE, Vol: 39

Journal article

Dorigatti I, Lavezzo E, Manuto L, Ciavarella C, Pacenti M, Boldrin C, Cattai M, Saluzzo F, Franchin E, Del Vecchio C, Caldart F, Castelli G, Nicoletti M, Nieddu E, Salvadoretti E, Labella B, Fava L, Guglielmo S, Gascina M, Grazioli M, Alvisi G, Vanuzzo MC, Zupo T, Calandrin R, Lisi V, Rossi L, Castagliuolo I, Merigliano S, Unwin J, Plebani M, Padoan A, Brazzale AR, Toppo S, Ferguson N, Donnelly C, Crisanti Aet al., 2021, SARS-CoV-2 antibody dynamics and transmission from community-wide serological testing in the Italian municipality of Vo’, Nature Communications, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 2041-1723

In February and March 2020, two mass swab testing campaigns were conducted in Vo’, Italy. In May 2020, we tested 86% of the Vo’ population with three immuno-assays detecting antibodies against the spike and nucleocapsid antigens, a neutralisation assay and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Subjects testing positive to PCR in February/March or a serological assay in May were tested again in November. Here we report on the results of the analysis of the May and November surveys. We estimate a seroprevalence of 3.5% (95% Credible Interval (CrI): 2.8%-4.3%) in May. In November, 98.8% (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 93.7%-100.0%) of sera which tested positive in May still reacted against at least one antigen; 18.6% (95%CI:11.0%-28.5%) showed an increase of antibody or neutralisation reactivity from May. Analysis of the serostatus of the members of 1,118 households indicates a 26.0% (95%CrI:17.2%-36.9%) Susceptible-Infectious Transmission Probability. Contact tracing had limited impact on epidemic suppression.

Journal article

Knock ES, Whittles LK, Lees JA, Perez-Guzman PN, Verity R, FitzJohn RG, Gaythorpe KAM, Imai N, Hinsley W, Okell LC, Rosello A, Kantas N, Walters CE, Bhatia S, Watson OJ, Whittaker C, Cattarino L, Boonyasiri A, Djaafara BA, Fraser K, Fu H, Wang H, Xi X, Donnelly CA, Jauneikaite E, Laydon DJ, White PJ, Ghani AC, Ferguson NM, Cori A, Baguelin Met 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.

Journal article

Toor J, Echeverria-Londono S, Li X, Abbas K, Carter ED, Clapham HE, Clark A, de Villiers MJ, Eilertson K, Ferrari M, Gamkrelidze I, Hallett TB, Hinsley WR, Hogan D, Huber JH, Jackson ML, Jean K, Jit M, Karachaliou A, Klepac P, Kraay A, Lessler J, Li X, Lopman BA, Mengistu T, Metcalf CJE, Moore SM, Nayagam S, Papadopoulos T, Perkins TA, Portnoy A, Razavi H, Razavi-Shearer D, Resch S, Sanderson C, Sweet S, Tam Y, Tanvir H, Tran Minh Q, Trotter CL, Truelove SA, Vynnycky E, Walker N, Winter A, Woodruff K, Ferguson NM, Gaythorpe KAet al., 2021, Lives saved with vaccination for 10 pathogens across 112 countries in a pre-COVID-19 world, eLife, Vol: 10, ISSN: 2050-084X

Background: Vaccination is one of the most effective public health interventions. We investigate the impact of vaccination activities for Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus, Japanese encephalitis, measles, Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A, rotavirus, rubella, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and yellow fever over the years 2000-2030 across 112 countries. Methods: Twenty-one mathematical models estimated disease burden using standardised demographic and immunisation data. Impact was attributed to the year of vaccination through vaccine-activity-stratified impact ratios. Results: We estimate 97 (95%CrI[80, 120]) million deaths would be averted due to vaccination activities over 2000-2030, with 50 (95%CrI[41, 62]) million deaths averted by activities between 2000 and 2019. For children under-5 born between 2000 and 2030, we estimate 52 (95%CrI[41, 69]) million more deaths would occur over their lifetimes without vaccination against these diseases. Conclusions: This study represents the largest assessment of vaccine impact before COVID-19-related disruptions and provides motivation for sustaining and improving global vaccination coverage in the future. Funding: VIMC is jointly funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) (BMGF grant number: OPP1157270 / INV-009125). Funding from Gavi is channelled via VIMC to the Consortium's modelling groups (VIMC-funded institutions represented in this paper: Imperial College London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Public Health England, Johns Hopkins University, The Pennsylvania State University, Center for Disease Analysis Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Washington, University of Cambridge, University of Notre Dame, Harvard University, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Emory University, National University of Singapore). Funding from BMGF was used for salaries of the Consortium secretariat (auth

Journal article

Gaythorpe K, Bhatia S, Mangal T, Unwin H, Imai N, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Walters C, Jauneikaite E, Bayley H, Kont M, Mousa A, Whittles L, Riley S, Ferguson Net 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

Journal article

Williams LR, Ferguson NM, Donnelly CA, Grassly NCet al., 2021, Measuring vaccine efficacy against infection and disease in clinical trials: sources and magnitude of bias in COVID-19 vaccine efficacy estimates, Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Background Phase III trials have estimated COVID-19 vaccine efficacy (VE) against symptomatic and asymptomatic infection. We explore the direction and magnitude of potential biases in these estimates and their implications for vaccine protection against infection and against disease in breakthrough infections.Methods We developed a mathematical model that accounts for natural and vaccine-induced immunity, changes in serostatus and imperfect sensitivity and specificity of tests for infection and antibodies. We estimated expected biases in VE against symptomatic, asymptomatic and any SARS-CoV-2 infections and against disease following infection for a range of vaccine characteristics and measurement approaches, and the likely overall biases for published trial results that included asymptomatic infections.Results VE against asymptomatic infection measured by PCR or serology is expected to be low or negative for vaccines that prevent disease but not infection. VE against any infection is overestimated when asymptomatic infections are less likely to be detected than symptomatic infections and the vaccine protects against symptom development. A competing bias towards underestimation arises for estimates based on tests with imperfect specificity, especially when testing is performed frequently. Our model indicates considerable uncertainty in Oxford-AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 and Janssen Ad26.COV2.S VE against any infection, with slightly higher than published, bias-adjusted values of 59.0% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 38.4 to 77.1) and 70.9% (95% UI 49.8 to 80.7) respectively.Conclusion Multiple biases are likely to influence COVID-19 VE estimates, potentially explaining the observed difference between ChAdOx1 and Ad26.COV2.S vaccines. These biases should be considered when interpreting both efficacy and effectiveness study results.

Working paper

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