COVID-19 Publications


Mar, 2021

SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in primary schools in England in June–December, 2020 (sKIDs): an active, prospective surveillance study

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Authors: Shamez N Ladhani, Frances Baawuah, Joanne Beckmann, Ifeanichukwu O Okike, Shazaad Ahmad, Joanna Garstang, Andrew J Brent, Bernadette Brent, Jemma Walker, Nick Andrews, Georgina Ireland, Felicity Aiano, Zahin Amin-Chowdhury, Louise Letley, Jessica Flood, Samuel E I Jones, Ray Borrow, Ezra Linley, Maria Zambon, John Poh, Vanessa Saliba, Gayatri Amirthalingam, Jamie Lopez Bernal, Kevin E Brown, Mary E Ramsay

Published in: The Lancet


Summary Background: Little is known about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in educational settings. Public Health England initiated a study, COVID-19 Surveillance in School KIDs (sKIDs), in primary schools when they partially reopened from June 1, 2020, after the first national lockdown in England to estimate the incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence, and seroconversion in staff and students.

Methods: sKIDs, an active, prospective, surveillance study, included two groups: the weekly swabbing group and the blood sampling group. The swabbing group underwent weekly nasal swabs for at least 4 weeks after partial school reopening during the summer half-term (June to mid-July, 2020). The blood sampling group additionally underwent blood sampling for serum SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to measure previous infection at the beginning (June 1–19, 2020) and end (July 3–23, 2020) of the summer half-term, and, after full reopening in September, 2020, and at the end of the autumn term (Nov 23–Dec 18, 2020). We tested for predictors of SARS-CoV-2 antibody positivity using logistic regression. We calculated antibody seroconversion rates for participants who were seronegative in the first round and were tested in at least two rounds.

Findings: During the summer half-term, 11 966 participants (6727 students, 4628 staff, and 611 with unknown staff or student status) in 131 schools had 40 501 swabs taken. Weekly SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were 4·1 (one of 24463; 95% CI 0·1–21·8) per 100000 students and 12·5 (two of 16 038; 1·5–45·0) per 100000 staff. At recruitment, in 45 schools, 91 (11·2%; 95% CI 7·9–15·1) of 816 students and 209 (15·1%; 11·9–18·9) of 1381 staff members were positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, similar to local community seroprevalence. Seropositivity was not associated with school attendance during lockdown (p=0·13 for students and p=0·20 for staff) or staff contact with students (p=0·37). At the end of the summer half-term, 603 (73·9%) of 816 students and 1015 (73·5%) of 1381 staff members were still participating in the surveillance, and five (four students, one staff member) seroconverted. By December, 2020, 55 (5·1%; 95% CI 3·8–6·5) of 1085 participants who were seronegative at recruitment (in June, 2020) had seroconverted, including 19 (5·6%; 3·4–8·6) of 340 students and 36 (4·8%; 3·4–6·6) of 745 staff members (p=0·60).

Interpretation: In England, SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were low in primary schools following their partial and full reopening in June and September, 2020.

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Mar, 2021

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection: a key strategy to keeping schools and universities open

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Authors: Archana Koirala, Nicholas Wood, Kristine Macartney

Published in: The Lancet


Introduction: Education has been profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lack of access to education has exacerbated the divide between rich and poor and left vulnerable children exposed to domestic violence and hunger. The best way of keeping educational institutions open for in-person learning is to control transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the wider community1 and to ensure rapid identification of infected staff and students to support timely and tailored public health responses. A comprehensive testing strategy is a core tenet in control, especially as a majority (40–60%) of children and young people have asymptomatic COVID-19,2 and individuals who are pre-symptomatic also present a transmission risk. Mitigation measures such as physical distancing, use of masks, and ensuring adequate ventilation within classrooms are also key, especially when community based transmission exists.

SARS-CoV-2 infection can be diagnosed by two methods: direct testing for the viral RNA with highly sensitive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests or viral antigen detection tests, which identify active (or resolving) infection on a nasal, oropharyngeal, or salivary sample and allow early case identification to contain outbreaks. Testing for antibodies against the virus diagnose previous or recent infection (with onset of 10 or more days previously). The delayed nature of virus-specific antibody testing precludes it as tool for rapid outbreak suppression; rather, its predominant public health utility is to understand infection and transmission rates and patterns in a community or clusters.

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Feb, 2021

Carlo Giaquinto and Francesco Bonfante talk about Covid 19 testing at Penta

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We recently met with Carlo Giaquinto – Penta President and Francesco Bonfante – Virologist at IZSVe to have some scientific opinion on Covid 19 testing. (more…)


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