Determinants of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to guide vaccination strategy in an urban area
Sarah C. Brueningk,
Kirstine Kobberoee Soegaard,
Diana Albertos Torres,
Hans H. Hirsch,
Posted 17 Dec 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.15.20248130
Posted 17 Dec 2020
Background. Transmission chains within small urban areas (accommodating 30% of the European population) greatly contribute to case burden and economic impact during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and should be a focus for preventive measures to achieve containment. Here, at very high spatio-temporal resolution,we analysed determinants of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a European urban area, Basel-City (Switzerland). Methodology. We combined detailed epidemiological, intra-city mobility, and socioeconomic data-sets with whole-genome-sequencing during the first SARS-CoV-2 wave. For this, we succeeded in sequencing 44% of all reported cases from Basel-City and performed phylogenetic clustering and compartmental modelling based on the dominating viral variant (B.1-C15324T; 60% of cases) to identify drivers and patterns of transmission. Based on these results we simulated vaccination scenarios and corresponding healthcare-system burden (intensive-care-unit occupancy). Principal Findings. Transmissions were driven by socio economically weaker and highly mobile population groups with mostly cryptic transmissions, whereas amongst more senior population transmission was clustered. Simulated vaccination scenarios assuming 60-90%transmission reduction, and 70-90%reduction of severe cases showed that prioritizing mobile, socio economically weaker populations for vaccination would effectively reduce case numbers. However, long-term intensive-care-unit occupation would also be effectively reduced if senior population groups were prioritized, provided there were no changes in testing and prevention strategies. Conclusions. Reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission through vaccination strongly depends on the efficacy of the deployed vaccine. A combined strategy of protecting risk groups by extensive testing coupled with vaccination of the drivers of transmission (i.e. highly mobile groups) would be most effective at reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 within an urban area.
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