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Post-peak dynamics of a national Omicron SARS-CoV-2 epidemic during January 2022

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Title: Post-peak dynamics of a national Omicron SARS-CoV-2 epidemic during January 2022
Authors: Elliott, P
Eales, O
Bodinier, B
Tang, D
Wang, H
Jonnerby, J
Haw, D
Elliott, J
Whitaker, M
Walters, C
Atchison, C
Diggle, P
Page, A
Trotter, A
Ashby, D
Barclay, W
Taylor, G
Ward, H
Darzi, A
Cooke, G
Chadeau-Hyam, M
Donnelly, C
Item Type: Working Paper
Abstract: Background: Rapid transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has led to the highest ever recorded case incidence levels in many countries around the world. Methods: The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study has been characterising the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus using RT-PCR test results from self-administered throat and nose swabs from randomly-selected participants in England at ages 5 years and over, approximately monthly since May 2020. Round 17 data were collected between 5 and 20 January 2022 and provide data on the temporal, socio-demographic and geographical spread of the virus, viral loads and viral genome sequence data for positive swabs. Results: From 102,174 valid tests in round 17, weighted prevalence of swab positivity was 4.41% (95% credible interval [CrI], 4.25% to 4.56%), which is over three-fold higher than in December 2021 in England. Of 3,028 sequenced positive swabs, 2,393 lineages were determined and 2,374 (99.2%) were Omicron including 19 (0.80% of all Omicron lineages) cases of BA.2 sub-lineage and one BA.3 (0.04% of all Omicron) detected on 17 January 2022, and only 19 (0.79%) were Delta. The growth of the BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage against BA.1 and its sub-lineage BA.1.1 indicated a daily growth rate advantage of 0.14 (95% CrI, 0.03, 0.28) for BA.2, which corresponds to an additive R advantage of 0.46 (95% CrI, 0.10, 0.92). Within round 17, prevalence was decreasing overall (R=0.95, 95% CrI, 0.93, 0.97) but increasing in children aged 5 to 17 years (R=1.13, 95% CrI, 1.09, 1.18). Those 75 years and older had a swab-positivity prevalence of 2.46% (95% CI, 2.16%, 2.80%) reflecting a high level of infection among a highly vulnerable group. Among the 3,613 swab-positive individuals reporting whether or not they had had previous infection, 2,334 (64.6%) reported previous confirmed COVID-19. Of these, 64.4% reported a positive test from 1 to 30 days before their swab date. Risks of infection were increased among essential/key workers (other than healthcare or care home workers) with mutually adjusted Odds Ratio (OR) of 1.15 (95% CI, 1.05, 1.26), people living in large compared to single-person households (6+ household size OR 1.73; 95% CI, 1.44, 2.08), those living in urban vs rural areas (OR 1.24, 95% CI, 1.13, 1.35) and those living in the most vs least deprived areas (OR 1.34, 95% CI, 1.20, 1.49). Conclusions: We observed unprecedented levels of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in England in January 2022, an almost complete replacement of Delta by Omicron, and evidence for a growth advantage for BA.2 compared to BA.1. The increase in the prevalence of infection with Omicron among children (aged 5 to 17 years) during January 2022 could pose a risk to adults, despite the current trend for prevalence in adults to decline. (Funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in England.)
Issue Date: 26-Jan-2022
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/93887
Copyright Statement: © 2022 The Author(s).
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus research
Notes: Embargoed until 00.01 Wednesday 25 January
Publication Status: Published
Appears in Collections:Department of Infectious Diseases
Faculty of Medicine
Institute of Global Health Innovation
School of Public Health