Imperial College London

DrPatrickWalker

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Senior Lecturer
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 3946patrick.walker06

 
 
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Location

 

UG12Norfolk PlaceSt Mary's Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

90 results found

Mangal T, Whittaker C, Nkhoma D, Ng'ambi W, Watson O, Walker P, Ghani A, Revill P, Colbourn T, Phillips A, Hallett T, Mfusto-Bengo Jet al., 2021, The potential impact of intervention strategies on COVID-19 transmission in Malawi: a mathematical modelling study, BMJ Open, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2044-6055

BackgroundCOVID-19 mitigation strategies have been challenging to implement in resource-limited settings due to the potential for widespread disruption to social and economic well-being. Here we predict the clinical severity of COVID-19 in Malawi, quantifying the potential impact of intervention strategies and increases in health system capacity.MethodsThe infection fatality ratios (IFR) were predicted by adjusting reported IFR for China accounting for demography, the current prevalence of comorbidities and health system capacity. These estimates were input into an age-structured deterministic model, which simulated the epidemic trajectory with non-pharmaceutical interventions and increases in health system capacity. Findings The predicted population-level IFR in Malawi, adjusted for age and comorbidity prevalence, is lower than estimated for China (0.26%, 95% uncertainty interval [UI] 0.12 – 0.69%, compared with 0.60%, 95% CI 0.4% – 1.3% in China), however the health system constraints increase the predicted IFR to 0.83%, 95% UI 0.49% – 1.39%. The interventions implemented in January 2021 could potentially avert 54,400 deaths (95% UI 26,900 – 97,300) over the course of the epidemic compared with an unmitigated outbreak. Enhanced shielding of people aged ≥ 60 years could avert a further 40,200 deaths (95% UI 25,300 – 69,700) and halve ICU admissions at the peak of the outbreak. A novel therapeutic agent, which reduces mortality by 0.65 and 0.8 for severe and critical cases respectively, in combination with increasing hospital capacity could reduce projected mortality to 2.5 deaths per 1,000 population (95% UI 1.9 – 3.6).ConclusionWe find the interventions currently used in Malawi are unlikely to effectively prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission but will have a significant impact on mortality. Increases in health system capacity and the introduction of novel therapeutics are likely to further reduce the projected numbers of deaths.

Journal article

Winskill P, Hogan AB, Thwing J, Mwandigha L, Walker PGT, Lambert Bet al., 2021, Health inequities and clustering of fever, acute respiratory infection, diarrhoea and wasting in children under five in low- and middle-income countries: a Demographic and Health Surveys analysis, BMC Medicine, Vol: 19, ISSN: 1741-7015

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria are responsible for over one third of all deaths in children under the age of 5 years in low and middle sociodemographic index countries; many of these deaths are also associated with malnutrition. We explore the co-occurrence and clustering of fever, acute respiratory infection, diarrhoea and wasting and their relationship with equity-relevant variables. METHODS: Multilevel, multivariate Bayesian logistic regression models were fitted to Demographic and Health Survey data from over 380,000 children in 39 countries. The relationship between outcome indicators (fever, acute respiratory infection, diarrhoea and wasting) and equity-relevant variables (wealth, access to health care and rurality) was examined. We quantified the geographical clustering and co-occurrence of conditions and a child's risk of multiple illnesses. RESULTS: The prevalence of outcomes was very heterogeneous within and between countries. There was marked spatial clustering of conditions and co-occurrence within children. For children in the poorest households and those reporting difficulties accessing healthcare, there were significant increases in the probability of at least one of the conditions in 18 of 21 countries, with estimated increases in the probability of up to 0.23 (95% CrI, 0.06-0.40). CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of fever, acute respiratory infection, diarrhoea and wasting are associated with equity-relevant variables and cluster together. Via pathways of shared aetiology or risk, those children most disadvantaged disproportionately suffer from these conditions. This highlights the need for horizontal approaches, such as integrated community case management, with a focus on equity and targeted to those most at need.

Journal article

Djaafara A, Whittaker C, Watson OJ, Verity R, Brazeau N, Widyastuti, Oktavia D, Adrian V, Salama N, Bhatia S, Nouvellet P, Sherrard-Smith E, Churcher T, Surendra H, Lina RN, Ekawati LL, Lestari KD, Andrianto A, Thwaites G, Baird JK, Ghani A, Elyazar IRF, Walker Pet al., 2021, Using syndromic measures of mortality to capture the dynamics of COVID-19 in Java, Indonesia in the context of vaccination roll-out, BMC Medicine, Vol: 19, ISSN: 1741-7015

Background: As in many countries, quantifying COVID-19 spread in Indonesia remains challenging due to testing limitations. In Java, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) were implemented throughout 2020. However, as a vaccination campaign launches, cases and deaths are rising across the island. Methods: We used modelling to explore the extent to which data on burials in Jakarta using strict COVID-19 protocols (C19P) provide additional insight into the transmissibility of the disease, epidemic trajectory, and the impact of NPIs. We assess how implementation of NPIs in early 2021 will shape the epidemic during the period of likely vaccine roll-out. Results: C19P burial data in Jakarta suggest a death toll approximately 3.3 times higher than reported. Transmission estimates using these data suggest earlier, larger, and more sustained impact of NPIs. Measures to reduce sub-national spread, particularly during Ramadan, substantially mitigated spread to more vulnerable rural areas. Given current trajectory, daily cases and deaths are likely to increase in most regions as the vaccine is rolled-out. Transmission may peak in early 2021 in Jakarta if current levels of control are maintained. However, relaxation of control measures is likely to lead to a subsequent resurgence in the absence of an effective vaccination campaign. Conclusions: Syndromic measures of mortality provide a more complete picture of COVID-19 severity upon which to base decision-making. The high potential impact of the vaccine in Java is attributable to reductions in transmission to date and dependent on these being maintained. Increases in control in the relatively short-term will likely yield large, synergistic increases in vaccine impact.

Journal article

McCabe R, Kont M, Schmit N, Whittaker C, Lochen A, Baguelin M, Knock E, Whittles L, Lees J, Brazeau N, Walker P, Ghani A, Ferguson N, White P, Donnelly C, Hauck K, Watson Oet al., 2021, Modelling ICU capacity under different epidemiological scenarios of the COVID-19 pandemic in three western European countries, International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol: 50, Pages: 753-767, ISSN: 0300-5771

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has placed enormous strain on intensive care units (ICUs) in Europe. Ensuring access to care, irrespective of COVID-19 status, in winter 2020/21 is essential.Methods: An integrated model of hospital capacity planning and epidemiological projections of COVID-19 patients is used to estimate the demand for and resultant spare capacity of ICU beds, staff, and ventilators under different epidemic scenarios in France, Germany, and Italy across the 2020/21 winter period. The effect of implementing lockdowns triggered by different numbers of COVID-19 patients in ICU under varying levels of effectiveness is examined, using a ‘dual-demand’ (COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) patient model.Results: Without sufficient mitigation, we estimate that COVID-19 ICU patient numbers will exceed those seen in the first peak, resulting in substantial capacity deficits, with beds being consistently found to be the most constrained resource. Reactive lockdowns could lead to large improvements in ICU capacity during the winter season, with pressure being most effectively alleviated when lockdown is triggered early and sustained under a higher level of suppression. The success of such interventions also depends on baseline bed numbers and average non-COVID-19 patient occupancy.Conclusions: Reductions in capacity deficits under different scenarios must be weighed against the feasibility and drawbacks of further lockdowns. Careful, continuous decision-making by national policymakers will be required across the winter period 2020/21.

Journal article

Hogan AB, Winskill P, Watson OJ, Walker PGT, Whittaker C, Baguelin M, Brazeau NF, Charles GD, Gaythorpe KAM, Hamlet A, Knock E, Laydon DJ, Lees JA, Løchen A, Verity R, Whittles LK, Muhib F, Hauck K, Ferguson NM, Ghani ACet al., 2021, Within-country age-based prioritisation, global allocation, and public health impact of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2: a mathematical modelling analysis, Vaccine, Vol: 39, Pages: 2995-3006, ISSN: 0264-410X

The worldwide endeavour to develop safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines has been extraordinary, and vaccination is now underway in many countries. However, the doses available in 2021 are likely to be limited. We extended a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission across different country settings to evaluate the public health impact of potential vaccines using WHO-developed target product profiles. We identified optimal vaccine allocation strategies within- and between-countries to maximise averted deaths under constraints on dose supply. We found that the health impact of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination depends on the cumulative population-level infection incidence when vaccination begins, the duration of natural immunity, the trajectory of the epidemic prior to vaccination, 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. However, with a larger supply, if vaccination can occur while other interventions are maintained, the optimal strategy switches to targeting key transmitters to indirectly protect the vulnerable. As supply increases, vaccines that reduce or block infection have a greater impact than those that prevent disease alone due to the indirect protection provided to high-risk groups. Given a 2 billion global dose supply in 2021, we find that a strategy in which doses are allocated to countries proportional to population size is close to optimal in averting deaths and aligns with the ethical principles agreed in pandemic preparedness planning.

Journal article

Faria NR, Mellan TA, Whittaker C, Claro IM, Candido DDS, Mishra S, Crispim MAE, Sales FC, Hawryluk I, McCrone JT, Hulswit RJG, Franco LAM, Ramundo MS, de Jesus JG, Andrade PS, Coletti TM, Ferreira GM, Silva CAM, Manuli ER, Pereira RHM, Peixoto PS, Kraemer MU, Gaburo N, Camilo CDC, Hoeltgebaum H, Souza WM, Rocha EC, de Souza LM, de Pinho MC, Araujo LJT, Malta FS, de Lima AB, Silva JDP, Zauli DAG, Ferreira ACDS, Schnekenberg RP, Laydon DJ, Walker PGT, Schlueter HM, dos Santos ALP, Vidal MS, Del Caro VS, Filho RMF, dos Santos HM, Aguiar RS, Proenca-Modena JLP, Nelson B, Hay JA, Monod M, Miscouridou X, Coupland H, Sonabend R, Vollmer M, Gandy A, Prete CA, Nascimento VH, Suchard MA, Bowden TA, Pond SLK, Wu C-H, Ratmann O, Ferguson NM, Dye C, Loman NJ, Lemey P, Rambaut A, Fraiji NA, Carvalho MDPSS, Pybus OG, Flaxman S, Bhatt S, Sabino ECet al., 2021, Genomics and epidemiology of the P.1 SARS-CoV-2 lineage in Manaus, Brazil, Science, Vol: 372, Pages: 815-821, ISSN: 0036-8075

Cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in Manaus, Brazil, resurged in late 2020 despite previously high levels of infection. Genome sequencing of viruses sampled in Manaus between November 2020 and January 2021 revealed the emergence and circulation of a novel SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern. Lineage P.1 acquired 17 mutations, including a trio in the spike protein (K417T, E484K, and N501Y) associated with increased binding to the human ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor. Molecular clock analysis shows that P.1 emergence occurred around mid-November 2020 and was preceded by a period of faster molecular evolution. Using a two-category dynamical model that integrates genomic and mortality data, we estimate that P.1 may be 1.7- to 2.4-fold more transmissible and that previous (non-P.1) infection provides 54 to 79% of the protection against infection with P.1 that it provides against non-P.1 lineages. Enhanced global genomic surveillance of variants of concern, which may exhibit increased transmissibility and/or immune evasion, is critical to accelerate pandemic responsiveness.

Journal article

Watson O, Alhaffar M, Mehchy Z, Whittaker C, Akil Z, Brazeau N, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Hamlet A, Thompson H, Baguelin M, Fitzjohn R, Knock E, Lees J, Whittles L, Mellan T, Winskill P, COVID-19 Response Team IC, Howard N, Clapham H, Checchi F, Ferguson N, Ghani A, Walker P, Beals Eet 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.

Journal article

Hogan AB, Winskill P, Watson OJ, Walker PGT, Whittaker C, Baguelin M, Brazeau NF, Charles GD, Gaythorpe KAM, Hamlet A, Knock E, Laydon DJ, Lees JA, Løchen A, Verity R, Whittles LK, Muhib F, Hauck K, Ferguson NM, Ghani ACet al., 2021, Within-country age-based prioritisation, global allocation, and public health impact of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2: a mathematical modelling analysis, Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The worldwide endeavour to develop safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines has been extraordinary, and vaccination is now underway in many countries. However, the doses available in 2021 are likely to be limited. We extended a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission across different country settings to evaluate the public health impact of potential vaccines using WHO-developed target product profiles. We identified optimal vaccine allocation strategies within- and between-countries to maximise averted deaths under constraints on dose supply. We found that the health impact of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination depends on the cumulative population-level infection incidence when vaccination begins, the duration of natural immunity, the trajectory of the epidemic prior to vaccination, 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. However, with a larger supply, if vaccination can occur while other interventions are maintained, the optimal strategy switches to targeting key transmitters to indirectly protect the vulnerable. As supply increases, vaccines that reduce or block infection have a greater impact than those that prevent disease alone due to the indirect protection provided to high-risk groups. Given a 2 billion global dose supply in 2021, we find that a strategy in which doses are allocated to countries proportional to population size is close to optimal in averting deaths and aligns with the ethical principles agreed in pandemic preparedness planning.

Working paper

Smith TP, Dorigatti I, Mishra S, Volz E, Walker PGT, Ragonnet-Cronin M, Tristem M, Pearse WDet al., 2021, Environmental drivers of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 transmission intensity

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Previous work has shown that environment affects SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but it is unclear whether emerging strains show similar responses. Here we show that, like other SARS-CoV-2 strains, lineage B.1.1.7 spread with greater transmission in colder and more densely populated parts of England. However, we also find evidence of B.1.1.7 having a transmission advantage at warmer temperatures compared to other strains. This implies that spring and summer conditions are unlikely to slow B.1.1.7’s invasion in Europe and across the Northern hemisphere - an important consideration for public health interventions.</jats:p>

Journal article

Diawara H, Walker P, Cairns M, Steinhardt LC, Diawara F, Kamate B, Duval L, Sicuri E, Sagara I, Sadou A, Mihigo J, Eckert E, Dicko A, Conteh Let al., 2021, Cost-effectiveness of district-wide seasonal malaria chemoprevention when implemented through routine malaria control programme in Kita, Mali using fixed point distribution, Malaria Journal, Vol: 20, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 1475-2875

Background: Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) is a strategy for malaria control recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2012 for Sahelian countries. The Mali National Malaria Control Programme adopted a plan for pilot implementation and nationwide scale-up by 2016. Given that SMC is a relatively new approach, there is an urgent need to assess the costs and cost effectiveness of SMC when implemented through the routine health system to inform decisions on resource allocation.Methods: Cost data were collected from pilot implementation of SMC in Kita district, which targeted 77,497 children aged 3–59 months. Starting in August 2014, SMC was delivered by fixed point distribution in villages with the first dose observed each month. Treatment consisted of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and amodiaquine once a month for four consecutive months, or rounds. Economic and financial costs were collected from the provider perspective using an ingredients approach. Effectiveness estimates were based upon a published mathematical transmission model calibrated to local epidemiology, rainfall patterns and scale-up of interventions. Incremental cost effectiveness ratios were calculated for the cost per malaria episode averted, cost per disability adjusted life years (DALYs) averted, and cost per death averted.Results: The total economic cost of the intervention in the district of Kita was US $357,494. Drug costs and personnel costs accounted for 34% and 31%, respectively. Incentives (payment other than salary for efforts beyond routine activities) accounted for 25% of total implementation costs. Average financial and economic unit costs per child per round were US $0.73 and US $0.86, respectively; total annual financial and economic costs per child receiving SMC were US $2.92 and US $3.43, respectively. Accounting for coverage, the economic cost per child fully adherent (receiving all four rounds) was US $6.38 and US $4.69, if weighted highly adherent, (receivin

Journal article

Winskill P, Mousa A, Oresanya O, Counihan H, Okell L, Walker Pet al., 2021, Does integrated community case management (iCCM) target health inequities and treatment delays? Evidence from an analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys data from 21 countries in the period 2010 to 2018, Journal of Global Health, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2047-2978

BackgroundIntegrated community case management (iCCM) is a programme that can, via community health workers (CHWs), increase access to timely and essential treatments for children. As well as improving treatment coverage, iCCM has an additional equity-focus with the aim of targetingunderserved populations. To assess the success of iCCM programmes it is important that we understand the contribution they are making to equitable health coverage.MethodsWe analysed demographic and health survey data from 21 countries over 9 years to assess evidence and evaluate iCCM programmes. We summarise the contribution CHWs are making relative to other healthcare provider groups and what treatment combinations CHWs are commonly prescribing. We assessed the ability of CHWs to target treatment delays and health inequities by evaluating time to treatment following fever onset and relationships between CHWs and wealth, rurality and remoteness.ResultsThere was good evidence that CHWs are being successfully targeted to improve inequities in healthcare coverage. There is a larger contribution of CHWs in areas with higher poverty, rurality and remoteness. In six surveys CHWs were associated with significantly shorter average timebetween fever onset and advice or treatment seeking, whilst in one they were associated with significantly longer times. In areas with active CHW programmes, the contribution of CHWs relative to other healthcare provider groups varied between 11% to 45% of treatment visits. The distribution of types of treatment provided by CHWs was also very variable between countries.ConclusionsThe success of an iCCM programme depends not only on increasing treatment coverage but addressing inequities in access to timely healthcare. Whilst much work is still needed to attain universal healthcare targets, and despite incomplete data, there is evidence that iCCM is successfully addressing treatment delays and targeting underserved populations.

Journal article

Nouvellet P, Bhatia S, Cori A, Ainslie K, Baguelin M, Bhatt S, Boonyasiri A, Brazeau N, Cattarino L, Cooper L, Coupland H, Cucunuba Perez Z, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Dighe A, Djaafara A, Dorigatti I, Eales O, van Elsland S, NASCIMENTO F, Fitzjohn R, Gaythorpe K, Geidelberg L, green W, Hamlet A, Hauck K, Hinsley W, Imai N, Jeffrey, Jeffrey B, Knock E, Laydon D, Lees J, Mangal T, Mellan T, Nedjati Gilani G, Parag K, Pons Salort M, Ragonnet-Cronin M, Riley S, Unwin H, Verity R, Vollmer M, Volz E, Walker P, Walters C, Wang H, Watson O, Whittaker C, Whittles L, Xi X, Ferguson N, Donnelly Cet al., 2021, Reduction in mobility and COVID-19 transmission, Nature Communications, Vol: 12, ISSN: 2041-1723

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.

Journal article

Verity R, Okell L, Dorigatti I, Winskill P, Whittaker C, Walker P, Donnelly C, Ferguson N, Ghani Aet al., 2021, COVID-19 and the difficulty of inferring epidemiological parameters from clinical data Reply, LANCET INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol: 21, Pages: 28-28, ISSN: 1473-3099

Journal article

Fu H, Wang H, Xi X, Boonyasiri A, Wang Y, Hinsley W, Fraser KJ, McCabe R, Olivera Mesa D, Skarp J, Ledda A, Dewé T, Dighe A, Winskill P, van Elsland SL, Ainslie KEC, Baguelin M, Bhatt S, Boyd O, Brazeau NF, Cattarino L, Charles G, Coupland H, Cucunubá ZM, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Donnelly CA, Dorigatti I, Eales OD, Fitzjohn RG, Flaxman S, Gaythorpe KAM, Ghani AC, Green WD, Hamlet A, Hauck K, Haw DJ, Jeffrey B, Laydon DJ, Lees JA, Mellan T, Mishra S, Nedjati Gilani G, Nouvellet P, Okell L, Parag KV, Ragonnet-Cronin M, Riley S, Schmit N, Thompson HA, Unwin HJT, Verity R, Vollmer MAC, Volz E, Walker PGT, Walters CE, Waston OJ, Whittaker C, Whittles LK, Imai N, Bhatia S, Ferguson NMet 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.

Journal article

Kitojo C, Chacky F, Kigadye ES, Mugasa JP, Lusasi A, Mohamed A, Walker P, Reaves EJ, Gutman JR, Ishengoma DSet al., 2020, Evaluation of a single screen and treat strategy to detect asymptomatic malaria among pregnant women from selected health facilities in Lindi region, Tanzania, MALARIA JOURNAL, Vol: 19

Journal article

Unwin H, Mishra S, Bradley V, Gandy A, Mellan T, Coupland H, Ish-Horowicz J, Vollmer M, Whittaker C, Filippi S, Xi X, Monod M, Ratmann O, Hutchinson M, Valka F, Zhu H, Hawryluk I, Milton P, Ainslie K, Baguelin M, Boonyasiri A, Brazeau N, Cattarino L, Cucunuba Z, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Dorigatti I, Eales O, Eaton J, van Elsland S, Fitzjohn R, Gaythorpe K, Green W, Hinsley W, Jeffrey B, Knock E, Laydon D, Lees J, Nedjati-Gilani G, Nouvellet P, Okell L, Parag K, Siveroni I, Thompson H, Walker P, Walters C, Watson O, Whittles L, Ghani A, Ferguson N, Riley S, Donnelly C, Bhatt S, Flaxman Set 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.

Journal article

Watson O, Abdelmagid N, Ahmed A, Ahmed Abd Elhameed AE, Whittaker C, Brazeau N, Hamlet A, Walker P, Hay J, Ghani A, Checchi F, Dahab Met al., 2020, Report 39: Characterising COVID-19 epidemic dynamics and mortality under-ascertainment in Khartoum, Sudan

Report

Thompson H, Imai N, Dighe A, Ainslie K, Baguelin M, Bhatia S, Bhatt S, Boonyasiri A, Boyd O, Brazeau N, Cattarino L, Cooper L, Coupland H, Cucunuba Z, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Djaafara B, Dorigatti I, van Elsland S, Fitzjohn R, Fu H, Gaythorpe K, Green W, Hallett T, Hamlet A, Haw D, Hayes S, Hinsley W, Jeffrey B, Knock E, Laydon D, Lees J, Mangal T, Mellan T, Mishra S, Mousa A, Nedjati-Gilani G, Nouvellet P, Okell L, Parag K, Ragonnet-Cronin M, Riley S, Unwin H, Verity R, Vollmer M, Volz E, Walker P, Walters C, Wang H, Wang Y, Watson O, Whittaker C, Whittles L, Winskill P, Xi X, Donnelly C, Ferguson Net 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.

Journal article

McCabe R, Kont M, Schmit N, Whittaker C, Lochen A, Baguelin M, Knock E, Whittles L, Lees J, Walker P, Ghani A, Ferguson N, White P, Donnelly C, Hauck K, Watson Oet al., 2020, Report 36: Modelling ICU capacity under different epidemiological scenarios of the COVID-19 pandemic in three western European countries

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has placed enormous strain on healthcare systems, particularly intensive care units (ICUs), with COVID-19 patient care being a key concern of healthcare system planning for winter 2020/21. Ensuring that all patients who require intensive care, irrespective of COVID-19 status, can access it during this time is essential. This study uses an integrated model of hospital capacity planning and epidemiological projections of COVID-19 patients to estimate the spare capacity of key ICU resources under different epidemic scenarios in France, Germany and Italy across the winter period of 2020/21. In particular, we examine the effect of implementing suppression strategies of varying effectiveness, triggered by different numbers of COVID-19 patients in ICU. The use of a ‘dual-demand’ (COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) patient model and the consideration of multiple ICU resources that determine capacity (beds, doctors, nurses and ventilators) and the interdependencies between them, provides a detailed insight into potential capacity constraints this winter. Without sufficient mitigation, we estimate that COVID-19 ICU patient numbers will exceed those seen in the first peak, resulting in substantial capacity deficits, with beds being consistently found to be the most constrained resource across countries. Lockdowns triggered based on ICU capacity could lead to large improvements in spare capacity during the winter season, with pressure being most effectively alleviated when lockdown is triggered early and implemented at a higher level of suppression. In many cases, maximum deficits are reduced to lower levels which can then be managed by expanding supply-side hospital capacity, to ensure that all patients can receive treatment. The success of such interventions also depends on baseline ICU bed numbers and average non-COVID-19 patient occupancy. We find that lockdowns of longer duration reduce the total number of days in defic

Report

Thompson H, Hogan A, Walker P, White M, Cunnington A, Ockenhouse C, Ghani Aet al., 2020, Modelling the roles of antibody titre and avidity in protection from Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection following RTS,S/AS01 vaccination, Vaccine, Vol: 38, Pages: 7498-7507, ISSN: 0264-410X

Anti-circumsporozoite antibody titres have been established as an essential indicator for evaluating the immunogenicity and protective capacity of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine. However, a new delayed-fractional dose regime of the vaccine was recently shown to increase vaccine efficacy, from 62.5% (95% CI 29.4–80.1%) under the original dosing schedule to 86.7% (95% CI, 66.8–94.6%) without a corresponding increase in antibody titres. Here we reanalyse the antibody data from this challenge trial to determine whether IgG avidity may help to explain efficacy better than IgG titre alone by adapting a within-host mathematical model of sporozoite inoculation. We demonstrate that a model incorporating titre and avidity provides a substantially better fit to the data than titre alone. These results also suggest that in individuals with a high antibody titre response that also show high avidity (both metrics in the top tercile of observed values) delayed-fractional vaccination provided near perfect protection upon first challenge (98.2% [95% Credible Interval 91.6–99.7%]). This finding suggests that the quality of the vaccine induced antibody response is likely to be an important determinant in the development of highly efficacious pre-erythrocytic vaccines against malaria.

Journal article

Okell LC, Verity R, Katzourakis A, Volz EM, Watson OJ, Mishra S, Walker P, Whittaker C, Donnelly CA, Riley S, Ghani AC, Gandy A, Flaxman S, Ferguson NM, Bhatt Set al., 2020, Host or pathogen-related factors in COVID-19 severity? Reply, LANCET, Vol: 396, Pages: 1397-1397, ISSN: 0140-6736

Journal article

Brazeau N, Verity R, Jenks S, Fu H, Whittaker C, Winskill P, Dorigatti I, Walker P, Riley S, Schnekenberg RP, Heltgebaum H, Mellan T, Mishra S, Unwin H, Watson O, Cucunuba Perez Z, Baguelin M, Whittles L, Bhatt S, Ghani A, Ferguson N, Okell Let al., 2020, Report 34: COVID-19 infection fatality ratio: estimates from seroprevalence

The infection fatality ratio (IFR) is a key statistic for estimating the burden of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and has been continuously debated throughout the current pandemic. Previous estimates have relied on data early in the epidemic, or have not fully accounted for uncertainty in serological test characteristics and delays from onset of infection to seroconversion, death, and antibody waning. After screening 175 studies, we identified 10 representative antibody surveys to obtain updated estimates of the IFR using a modelling framework that addresses the limitations listed above. We inferred serological test specificity from regional variation within serosurveys, which is critical for correctly estimating the cumulative proportion infected when seroprevalence is still low. We find that age-specific IFRs follow an approximately log-linear pattern, with the risk of death doubling approximately every eight years of age. Using these age-specific estimates, we estimate the overall IFR in a typical low-income country, with a population structure skewed towards younger individuals, to be 0.23% (0.14-0.42 95% prediction interval range). In contrast, in a typical high income country, with a greater concentration of elderly individuals, we estimate the overall IFR to be 1.15% (0.78-1.79 95% prediction interval range). We show that accounting for seroreversion, the waning of antibodies leading to a negative serological result, can slightly reduce the IFR among serosurveys conducted several months after the first wave of the outbreak, such as Italy. In contrast, uncertainty in test false positive rates combined with low seroprevalence in some surveys can reconcile apparently low crude fatality ratios with the IFR in other countries. Unbiased estimates of the IFR continue to be critical to policymakers to inform key response decisions. It will be important to continue to monitor the IFR as new treatments are introduced. The code for reproducing these results are av

Report

Mangal T, Whittaker C, Nkhoma D, Ng'ambi W, Watson O, Walker P, Ghani A, Revill P, Colbourn T, Phillips A, Hallett T, Mfutso-Bengo Jet al., 2020, The potential impact of intervention strategies on COVID-19 transmission in Malawi: A mathematical modelling study, Publisher: medRxiv

Background COVID-19 mitigation strategies have been challenging to implement in resource-limited settings such as Malawi due to the potential for widespread disruption to social and economic well-being. Here we estimate the clinical severity of COVID-19 in Malawi, quantifying the potential impact of intervention strategies and increases in health system capacity.Methods The infection fatality ratios (IFR) in Malawi were estimated by adjusting reported IFR for China accounting for demography, the current prevalence of comorbidities and health system capacity. These estimates were input into an age-structured deterministic model, which simulated the epidemic trajectory with non-pharmaceutical interventions. The impact of a novel therapeutic agent and increases in hospital capacity and oxygen availability were explored, given different assumptions on mortality rates.Findings The estimated age-specific IFR in Malawi are higher than those reported for China, however the younger average age of the population results in a slightly lower population-weighted IFR (0.48%, 95% uncertainty interval [UI] 0.30% – 0.72% compared with 0.60%, 95% CI 0.4% – 1.3% in China). The current interventions implemented, (i.e. social distancing, workplace closures and public transport restrictions) could potentially avert 3,100 deaths (95% UI 1,500 – 4,500) over the course of the epidemic. Enhanced shielding of people aged ≥ 60 years could avert a further 30,500 deaths (95% UI 17,500 – 45,600) and halve ICU admissions at the peak of the outbreak. Coverage of face coverings of 60% under the assumption of 50% efficacy could be sufficient to control the epidemic. A novel therapeutic agent, which reduces mortality by 0.65 and 0.8 for severe and critical cases respectively, in combination with increasing hospital capacity could reduce projected mortality to 2.55 deaths per 1,000 population (95% UI 1.58 – 3.84).Conclusion The risks due to COVID-19 vary across settings

Working paper

Djaafara BA, Whittaker C, Watson OJ, Verity R, Brazeau NF, Widyastuti W, Oktavia D, Adrian V, Salama N, Bhatia S, Nouvellet P, Sherrard-Smith E, Churcher TS, Surendra H, Lina RN, Ekawati LL, Lestari KD, Andrianto A, Thwaites G, Baird JK, Ghani AC, Elyazar IRF, Walker PGTet al., 2020, Quantifying the dynamics of COVID-19 burden and impact of interventions in Java, Indonesia

<jats:title>ABSTRACT</jats:title><jats:sec><jats:title>Background</jats:title><jats:p>As in many countries, quantifying COVID-19 spread in Indonesia remains challenging due to testing limitations. In Java, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) were implemented throughout 2020. However, as a vaccination campaign launches, cases and deaths are rising across the island.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Methods</jats:title><jats:p>We used modelling to explore the extent to which data on burials in Jakarta using strict COVID-19 protocols (C19P) provide additional insight into the transmissibility of the disease, epidemic trajectory, and the impact of NPIs. We assess how implementation of NPIs in early 2021 will shape the epidemic during the period of likely vaccine roll-out.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Results</jats:title><jats:p>C19P burial data in Jakarta suggest a death toll approximately 3.3 times higher than reported. Transmission estimates using these data suggest earlier, larger, and more sustained impact of NPIs. Measures to reduce sub-national spread, particularly during Ramadan, substantially mitigated spread to more vulnerable rural areas. Given current trajectory, daily cases and deaths are likely to increase in most regions as the vaccine is rolled-out. Transmission may peak in early 2021 in Jakarta if current levels of control are maintained. However, relaxation of control measures is likely to lead to a subsequent resurgence in the absence of an effective vaccination campaign.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Conclusion</jats:title><jats:p>Syndromic measures of mortality provide a more complete picture of COVID-19 severity upon which to base decision-making. The high potential impact of the vaccine in Java is attributable to reductions in transmission to date and dependent on these be

Journal article

Hogan A, Winskill P, Watson O, Walker P, Whittaker C, Baguelin M, Haw D, Lochen A, Gaythorpe K, Ainslie K, Bhatt S, Boonyasiri A, Boyd O, Brazeau N, Cattarino L, Charles G, Cooper L, Coupland H, Cucunuba Perez Z, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Donnelly C, Dorigatti I, Eales O, van Elsland S, Ferreira Do Nascimento F, Fitzjohn R, Flaxman S, Green W, Hallett T, Hamlet A, Hinsley W, Imai N, Jauneikaite E, Jeffrey B, Knock E, Laydon D, Lees J, Mellan T, Mishra S, Nedjati Gilani G, Nouvellet P, Ower A, Parag K, Ragonnet-Cronin M, Siveroni I, Skarp J, Thompson H, Unwin H, Verity R, Vollmer M, Volz E, Walters C, Wang H, Wang Y, Whittles L, Xi X, Muhib F, Smith P, Hauck K, Ferguson N, Ghani Aet 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.

Report

van Elsland S, Watson O, Alhaffar M, Mehchy Z, Whittaker C, Akil Z, Ainslie K, Baguelin M, Bhatt S, Boonyasiri A, Boyd O, Brazeau N, Cattarino L, Charles G, Ciavarella C, Cooper L, Coupland H, Cucunuba Perez Z, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Djaafara A, Donnelly C, Dorigatti I, Eales O, van Elsland S, Nascimento F, Fitzjohn R, Flaxman S, Forna A, Fu H, Gaythorpe K, Green W, Hamlet A, Hauck K, Haw D, Hayes S, Hinsley W, Imai N, Jeffrey B, Johnson R, Jorgensen D, Knock E, Laydon D, Lees J, Mellan T, Mishra S, Nedjati Gilani G, Nouvellet P, Okell L, Olivera Mesa D, Pons Salort M, Ragonnet-Cronin M, Siveroni I, Stopard I, Thompson H, Unwin H, Verity R, Vollmer M, Volz E, Walters C, Wang H, Wang Y, Whittles L, Winskill P, Xi X, Ferguson N, Beals E, Walker P, Anonymous Authorset 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.

Report

Watson OJ, Winskill P, Brazeau N, Fitzjohn R, Walker PGT, Hereñú Det al., 2020, mrc-ide/squire: v0.4.34

SEIR transmission model of COVID-19

Software

Hogan A, Jewell B, Sherrard-Smith E, Watson O, Whittaker C, Hamlet A, Smith J, Winskill P, Verity R, Baguelin M, Lees J, Whittles L, Ainslie K, Bhatt S, Boonyasiri A, Brazeau N, Cattarino L, Cooper L, Coupland H, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Dighe A, Djaafara A, Donnelly C, Eaton J, van Elsland S, Fitzjohn R, Fu H, Gaythorpe K, Green W, Haw D, Hayes S, Hinsley W, Imai N, Laydon D, Mangal T, Mellan T, Mishra S, Parag K, Thompson H, Unwin H, Vollmer M, Walters C, Wang H, Ferguson N, Okell L, Churcher T, Arinaminpathy N, Ghani A, Walker P, Hallett Tet 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

Journal article

Lavezzo E, Franchin E, Ciavarella C, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Barzon L, Del Vecchio C, Rossi L, Manganelli R, Loregian A, Navarin N, Abate D, Sciro M, Merigliano S, De Canale E, Vanuzzo MC, Besutti V, Saluzzo F, Onelia F, Pacenti M, Parisi S, Carretta G, Donato D, Flor L, Cocchio S, Masi G, Sperduti A, Cattarino L, Salvador R, Nicoletti M, Caldart F, Castelli G, Nieddu E, Labella B, Fava L, Drigo M, Gaythorpe KAM, Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, Brazzale AR, Toppo S, Trevisan M, Baldo V, Donnelly CA, Ferguson NM, Dorigatti I, Crisanti Aet 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.

Journal article

Flaxman S, Mishra S, Gandy A, Unwin HJT, Mellan TA, Coupland H, Whittaker C, Zhu H, Berah T, Eaton JW, Monod M, Perez Guzman PN, Schmit N, Cilloni L, Ainslie K, Baguelin M, Boonyasiri A, Boyd O, Cattarino L, Cucunuba Perez Z, Cuomo-Dannenburg G, Dighe A, Djaafara A, Dorigatti I, van Elsland S, Fitzjohn R, Gaythorpe K, Geidelberg L, Grassly N, Green W, Hallett T, Hamlet A, Hinsley W, Jeffrey B, Knock E, Laydon D, Nedjati Gilani G, Nouvellet P, Parag K, Siveroni I, Thompson H, Verity R, Volz E, Walters C, Wang H, Watson O, Winskill P, Xi X, Walker P, Ghani AC, Donnelly CA, Riley SM, Vollmer MAC, Ferguson NM, Okell LC, Bhatt Set al., 2020, Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe, Nature, Vol: 584, Pages: 257-261, ISSN: 0028-0836

Following the emergence of a novel coronavirus1 (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread outside of China, Europe has experienced large epidemics. In response, many European countries have implemented unprecedented non-pharmaceutical interventions such as closure of schools and national lockdowns. We study the impact of major interventions across 11 European countries for the period from the start of COVID-19 until the 4th of May 2020 when lockdowns started to be lifted. Our model calculates backwards from observed deaths to estimate transmission that occurred several weeks prior, allowing for the time lag between infection and death. We use partial pooling of information between countries with both individual and shared effects on the reproduction number. Pooling allows more information to be used, helps overcome data idiosyncrasies, and enables more timely estimates. Our model relies on fixed estimates of some epidemiological parameters such as the infection fatality rate, does not include importation or subnational variation and assumes that changes in the reproduction number are an immediate response to interventions rather than gradual changes in behavior. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, we rely on death data that is incomplete, with systematic biases in reporting, and subject to future consolidation. We estimate that, for all the countries we consider, current interventions have been sufficient to drive the reproduction number Rt below 1 (probability Rt< 1.0 is 99.9%) and achieve epidemic control. We estimate that, across all 11 countries, between 12 and 15 million individuals have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 up to 4th May, representing between 3.2% and 4.0% of the population. Our results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions and lockdown in particular have had a large effect on reducing transmission. Continued intervention should be considered to keep transmission of SARS-CoV-2 under control.

Journal article

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