Epidemiological and co-infection characteristics of common human coronaviruses in Shanghai, 2015-2020: a retrospective observational study.Emerg Microbes Infect. 2021 Dec; 10(1):1660-1668.EM
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is a major challenge worldwide. However, the epidemic potential of common human coronaviruses (HCoVs) remains unclear. This study aimed to determine the epidemiological and co-infection characteristics of common HCoVs in individuals with influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI). This retrospective, observational, multicentre study used data collected from patients admitted to nine sentinel hospitals with ILI and SARI from January 2015 through December 2020 in Shanghai, China. We prospectively tested patients for a total of 22 respiratory pathogens using multi-real-time polymerase chain reaction. Of the 4541 patients tested, 40.37% (1833/4541) tested positive for respiratory pathogens and 3.59% (163/4541) tested positive for common HCoVs. HCoV infection was more common in the non-endemic season for respiratory pathogens (odds ratio: 2.33, 95% confidence interval: 1.64-3.31). HCoV-OC43 (41.72%, 68/163) was the most common type of HCoV detected. The co-infection rate was 31.29% (51/163) among 163 HCoV-positive cases, with HCoV-229E (53.13%, 17/32), the HCoV type that was most frequently associated with co-infection. Respiratory pathogens responsible for co-infections with HCoVs included parainfluenza virus, rhinovirus/enterovirus, influenza A virus, and adenovirus. Furthermore, we identified one patient co-infected with HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-NL63/HKU1. The prevalence of common HCoVs remains low in ILI/SARI cases, in Shanghai. However, the seasonal pattern of HCoVs may be opposite to that of other respiratory pathogens. Moreover, HCoVs are likely to co-exist with specific respiratory pathogens. The potential role of co-infections with HCoVs and other pathogenic microorganisms in infection and pathogenesis of ILI and SARI warrants further study.