Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, infection rates, antibody seroconversion and seroprevalence rates in secondary school students and staff: Active prospective surveillance, December 2020 to March 2021, England

Shamez N. Ladhani*, Georgina Ireland, Frances Baawuah, Joanne Beckmann, Ifeanyichukwu O. Okike, Shazaad Ahmad, Joanna Garstang, Andrew J. Brent, Bernadette Brent, Felicity Aiano, Zahin Amin-Chowdhury, Meaghan Kall, Ray Borrow, Ezra Linley, Maria Zambon, John Poh, Lenesha Warrener, Angie Lackenby, Joanna Ellis, Gayatri AmirthalingamKevin E. Brown, Mary E. Ramsay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: We assessed SARS-CoV-2 infection, seroprevalence and seroconversion in students and staff when secondary schools reopened in March 2021. 

Methods: We initiated SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in 18 secondary schools across six regions in September 2020. Participants provided nasal swabs for RT-PCR and blood samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the beginning (September 2020) and end (December 2020) of the autumn term and at the start of the spring term (March 2021). 

Findings: In March 2021, 1895 participants (1100 students:795 staff) were tested; 5.6% (61/1094) students and 4.4% (35/792) staff had laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection from December 2020-March 2021. Nucleoprotein-antibody seroprevalence was 36.3% (370/1018) in students and 31.9% (245/769) in staff, while spike-antibody prevalence was 39.5% (402/1018) and 59.8% (459/769), respectively, similar to regional community seroprevalence. Between December 2020 and March 2021, 14.8% (97/656; 95%CI: 12.2–17.7) students and 10.0% (59/590; 95%CI: 7.7–12.7) staff seroconverted. Weekly seroconversion rates were similar from September to December 2020 (8.0/1000) and from December 2020 to March 2021 (7.9/1000; students: 9.3/1,000; staff: 6.3/1,000). 

Interpretation: By March 2021, a third of secondary school students and staff had evidence of prior infection based on N-antibody seropositivity, and an additional third of staff had evidence of vaccine-induced immunity based on S-antibody seropositivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-580
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infection
Volume83
Issue number5
Early online date13 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This surveillance was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

MR reports that The Immunization and Countermeasures Di- vision has provided vaccine manufacturers with post-marketing surveillance reports on pneumococcal and meningococcal infection which the companies are required to submit to the UK Licensing authority in compliance with their Risk Management Strategy. A cost recovery charge is made for these reports. RB and EL reports other from GSK, other from Sanofi, other from Pfizer, outside the submitted work. MK reports grants from Gilead Sciences Inc, out- side the submitted work. Dr. Garstang reports grants from Public Health England, during the conduct of the study. All other authors have nothing to declare.

Open Access: Free to read, but no Open Access licence.

Publisher Copyright: ©2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The British Infection Association.

Citation: Ladhani, Shamez N., et al. "Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 Alpha (B. 1.1. 7) variant, infection rates, antibody seroconversion and seroprevalence rates in secondary school students and staff: active prospective surveillance, December 2020 to March 2021, England." Journal of Infection 83.5 (2021): 573-580.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2021.08.019

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • CHILDREN
  • TIME

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