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Serial interval of COVID-19 and the effect of Variant B.1.1.7: Analyses from prospective community cohort study (Virus Watch)

Geismar, C; Fragaszy, E; Nguyen, V; Fong, WLE; Shrotri, M; Beale, S; Rodger, A; ... Hayward, A; + view all (2021) Serial interval of COVID-19 and the effect of Variant B.1.1.7: Analyses from prospective community cohort study (Virus Watch). Wellcome Open Research , 6 , Article 224. 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16974.1. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction: Increased transmissibility of B.1.1.7 variant of concern (VOC) in the UK may explain its rapid emergence and global spread. We analysed data from putative household infector - infectee pairs in the Virus Watch Community cohort study to assess the serial interval of COVID-19 and whether this was affected by emergence of the B.1.1.7 variant. Methods: The Virus Watch study is an online, prospective, community cohort study following up entire households in England and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Putative household infector-infectee pairs were identified where more than one person in the household had a positive swab matched to an illness episode. Data on whether or not individual infections were caused by the B.1.1.7 variant were not available. We therefore developed a classification system based on the percentage of cases estimated to be due to B.1.1.7 in national surveillance data for different English regions and study weeks. Results: Out of 24,887 illnesses reported, 915 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 186 likely 'infector-infectee' pairs in 186 households amongst 372 individuals were identified. The mean COVID-19 serial interval was 3.18 (95%CI: 2.55 - 3.81) days. There was no significant difference (p=0.267) between the mean serial interval for VOC hotspots (mean = 3.64 days, (95%CI: 2.55 - 4.73)) days and non-VOC hotspots, (mean = 2.72 days, (95%CI: 1.48 - 3.96)). Conclusions: Our estimates of the average serial interval of COVID-19 are broadly similar to estimates from previous studies and we find no evidence that B.1.1.7 is associated with a change in serial intervals. Alternative explanations such as increased viral load, longer period of viral shedding or improved receptor binding may instead explain the increased transmissibility and rapid spread and should undergo further investigation.

Type: Article
Title: Serial interval of COVID-19 and the effect of Variant B.1.1.7: Analyses from prospective community cohort study (Virus Watch)
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16974.1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16974.1
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: B.1.1.7, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, UK, epidemiology, serial interval, variant of concern
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics > Infectious Disease Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10161542
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