Community prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in England: Results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey Pilot
Pouwels KB., House T., Robotham JV., Birrell PJ., Gelman A., Bowers N., Boreham I., Thomas H., Lewis J., Bell I., Bell JI., Newton JN., Farrar J., Diamond I., Benton P., Walker AS.
AbstractObjectiveTo estimate the percentage of individuals infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) over time in the community in England and to quantify risk factors.DesignRepeated cross-sectional surveys of population-representative households with longitudinal follow-up if consent given.SettingEnglandParticipants34,992 Individuals aged 2 years and over from 16,722 private residential households. Data were collected in a pilot phase of the survey between 26 April and 28 June 2020.Main outcome measuresPercentage of individuals in the community testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA using throat and nose swabs. Individuals were asked about any symptoms and potential risk factors.ResultsThe percentage of people in private-residential households testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 reduced from 0.32% (95% credible interval (CrI) 0.19% to 0.52%) on 26 April to 0.08% (95% CrI 0.05% to 0.12%) on 28 June, although the prevalence stabilised near the end of the pilot. Factors associated with an increased risk of testing positive included having a job with direct patient contact (relative exposure (RE) 4.06, 95% CrI 2.42 to 6.77)), working outside the home (RE 2.49, 95% CrI 1.39 to 4.45), and having had contact with a hospital (RE 2.20, 95% CrI 1.09 to 4.16 for having been to a hospital individually and RE 1.95, 95% CrI 0.81 to 4.09 for a household member having been to a hospital). In 133 visits where individuals tested positive, 82 (61%, 95% CrI 53% to 69%) reported no symptoms, stably over time.ConclusionThe percentage of SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals declined between 26 April and 28 June 2020. Positive tests commonly occurred without symptoms being reported. Working outside your home was an important risk factor, indicating that continued monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in the community will be essential for early detection of increases in infections following return to work and other relaxations of control measures.What is already known on this topic-Unprecedented control measures, such as national lockdowns, have been widely implemented to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2.-Previous mass surveillance has been based on data sources such as hospital admission, deaths or self-reported symptoms that do not measure community prevalence of virus directly.-Decisions regarding the continued need for social distancing measures in the overall population, specific subgroups and geographic areas heavily rely on accurate and up-to-date information about the number of people and risk factors for testing positive.What this study adds-The percentage of individuals from the general community in England testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 clearly declined between 26 April and 28 June 2020 from around one in three 300 to around one in a thousand.-Risk factors for testing positive included having a job with direct patient contact, having had (indirect) contact with a hospital in the past 2 weeks, and working outside your home.-Positive tests commonly occurred without symptoms being reported and the percentage of individuals with a positive test that reported no symptoms was stable over time.