Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Household Transmission during the Omicron Era in Massachusetts: A Prospective, Case-Ascertained Study using Genomic Epidemiology.

medRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences

BACKGROUND: Households are a major setting for SARS-CoV-2 infections, but there remains a lack of knowledge regarding the dynamics of viral transmission, particularly in the setting of widespread pre-existing SARS-CoV-2 immunity and evolving variants.METHODS: We conducted a prospective, case-ascertained household transmission study in the greater Boston area in March-July 2022. Anterior nasal swabs, along with clinical and demographic data, were collected for 14 days. Nasal swabs were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR. Whole genome sequencing was performed on high-titer samples.RESULTS: We enrolled 33 households in a primary analysis set, with a median age of participants of 25 years old (range 2-66); 98% of whom had received at least 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 58% of households had a secondary case during follow up and the secondary attack rate (SAR) for contacts infected was 39%. We further examined a strict analysis set of 21 households that had only 1 PCR+ case at baseline, finding an SAR of 22.5%. Genomic epidemiology further determined that there were multiple sources of infection for household contacts, including the index case and outside introductions. When limiting estimates to only highly probable transmissions given epidemiologic and genomic data, the SAR was 18.4%.CONCLUSIONS: Household contacts of a person newly diagnosed with COVID-19 are at high risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in the following 2 weeks. This is, however, not only due to infection from the household index case, but also because the presence of an infected household member implies increased SARS-CoV-2 community transmission. Further studies to understand and mitigate household transmission are needed.

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medRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences
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