Community prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in England: Results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey Pilot
Pouwels K., House T., Robotham J., Birrell P., Gelman A., Bowers N., Boreham I., Thomas H., Lewis J., Bell I., Bell J., Newton J., Farrar J., Diamond I., Benton P., Walker S.
Objective: To 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. Design: Repeated cross-sectional surveys of population-representative households with longitudinal follow-up if consent given. Setting: England. Participants: 34,992 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 measures: Percentage 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. Results: The 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. Conclusion: The 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.