The role of genomics in understanding COVID-19 outbreaks in long term care facilities

Dinesh Aggarwal, Richard Myers, William L Hamilton, Tehmina Bharucha, Niamh M Tumelty, Colin S Brown, Emma J Meader, Tom Connor, Darren L Smith, Declan T Bradley, Samuel Robson, Matthew Bashton, Laura Shallcross, Maria Zambon, Ian Goodfellow, Meera Chand, Justin O'Grady, M. Estée Török, Sharon J. Peacock, Andrew J. Page

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A review was undertaken of all genomic epidemiology studies on COVID-19 in long term care facilities (LTCF) that have been published to date. It was found that staff and residents were usually infected with identical, or near identical, SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Outbreaks usually involved one predominant lineage, and the same lineages persisted in LTCFs despite infection control measures. Outbreaks were most commonly due to single or few introductions followed by spread rather than a series of seeding events from the community into LTCFs. Sequencing of samples taken consecutively from the same cases showed persistence of the same genome sequence indicating that the sequencing technique was robust over time. When combined with local epidemiology, genomics facilitated likely transmission sources to be better characterised. Transmission between LTCFs was detected in multiple studies. The mortality rate amongst residents was high in all cases, regardless of the lineage. Bioinformatics methods were inadequate in one third of the studies reviewed, and reproducing the analyses was difficult as sequencing data were not available in many cases
Original languageEnglish
TypeOnline preprint
Media of outputOSFPREPRINTS server
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020

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