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COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India, the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, and implications for vaccination.
medRxiv. 2021 Nov 22M

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The COVID-19 Delta pandemic wave in India surged and declined within 3 months; cases then remained low despite the continued spread of Delta elsewhere. Here we aim to estimate key epidemiological characteristics of the Delta variant based on data from India and examine the underpinnings of its dynamics.

METHODS

We utilize multiple datasets and model-inference methods to reconstruct COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India during March 2020 - June 2021. We further use model estimates to retrospectively predict cases and deaths during July - mid-Oct 2021, under various vaccination and vaccine effectiveness (VE) settings to estimate the impact of vaccination and VE for non-Delta-infection recoverees.

FINDINGS

We estimate that Delta escaped immunity in 34.6% (95% CI: 0 - 64.2%) of individuals with prior wildtype infection and was 57.0% (95% CI: 37.9 - 75.6%) more infectious than wildtype SARS-CoV-2. Models assuming higher VE among those with prior non-Delta infection, particularly after the 1 st dose, generated more accurate predictions than those assuming no such increases (best-performing VE setting: 90/95% vs. 30/67% baseline for the 1 st /2 nd dose). Counterfactual modeling indicates that high vaccination coverage for 1 st vaccine-dose in India (∼50% by mid-Oct 2021) combined with the boosting of VE among recoverees averted around 60% of infections during July - mid-Oct 2021.

INTERPRETATION

Non-pharmaceutical interventions, infection seasonality, and high coverage of 1-dose vaccination likely all contributed to pandemic dynamics in India during 2021. Given the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines globally and boosting of VE, for populations with high prior infection rates, prioritizing the first vaccine-dose may protect more people.

RESEARCH IN CONTEXT

Evidence before this study: We searched PubMed for studies published through Nov 3, 2021 on the Delta (B.1.617.2) SARS-CoV-2 variant that focused on three areas: 1) transmissibility [search terms: ("Delta variant" OR "B.1.617") AND ("transmission rate" OR "growth rate" OR "secondary attack rate" OR "transmissibility")]; 2) immune response ([search terms: ("Delta variant" OR "B.1.617") AND ("immune evas" OR "immune escape")]; and 3) vaccine effectiveness ([search terms: ("Delta variant" OR "B.1.617") AND ("vaccine effectiveness" OR "vaccine efficacy" OR "vaccination")]. Our search returned 256 papers, from which we read the abstracts and identified 54 relevant studies.Forty-two studies addressed immune evasion and/or vaccine effectiveness. Around half (n=19) of these studies measured the neutralizing ability of convalescent sera and/or vaccine sera against Delta and most reported some reduction (around 2-to 8-fold) compared to ancestral variants. The remainder (n=23) used field observations (often with a test-negative or cohort-design) and reported lower VE against infection but similar VE against hospitalization or death. Together, these laboratory and field observations consistently indicate that Delta can evade preexisting immunity. In addition, five studies reported higher B-cell and/or T-cell vaccine-induced immune response among recovered vaccinees than naïve vaccinees, suggesting potential boosting of pre-existing immunity; however, all studies were based on small samples (n = 10 to 198 individuals).Sixteen studies examined transmissibility, including 1) laboratory experiments (n=6) showing that Delta has higher affinity to the cell receptor, fuses membranes more efficiently, and/or replicates faster than other SARS-CoV-2 variants, providing biological mechanisms for its higher transmissibility; 2) field studies (n=5) showing higher rates of breakthrough infections by Delta and/or higher viral load among Delta infections than other variants; and 3) modeling/mixed studies (n=5) using genomic or case data to estimate the growth rate or reproduction number, reporting a 60-120% increase. Only one study jointly estimated the increase in transmissibility (1.3-1.7-fold, 50% CI) and immune evasion (10-50%, 50% CI); this study also reported a 27.5% (25/91) reinfection rate by Delta.Added value of this study: We utilize observed pandemic dynamics and the differential vaccination coverage for two vaccine doses in India, where the Delta variant was first identified, to estimate the epidemiological properties of Delta and examine the impact of prior non-Delta infection on immune boosting at the population level. We estimate that Delta variant can escape immunity from prior wildtype infection roughly one-third of the time and is around 60% more infectious than wildtype SARS-CoV-2. In addition, our analysis suggests the large increase in population receiving their first vaccine dose (∼50% by end of Oct 2021) combined with the boosting effect of vaccination for non-Delta infection recoverees likely mitigated epidemic intensity in India during July - Oct 2021.Implications of all the available evidence: Our analysis reconstructs the interplay and effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions, infection seasonality, Delta variant emergence, and vaccination on COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India. Modeling findings support prioritizing the first vaccine dose in populations with high prior infection rates, given vaccine shortages.

Authors

No affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Preprint

Language

eng

PubMed ID

34845460

Citation

Yang, Wan, and Jeffrey Shaman. "COVID-19 Pandemic Dynamics in India, the SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant, and Implications for Vaccination." MedRxiv : the Preprint Server for Health Sciences, 2021.
Yang W, Shaman J. COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India, the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, and implications for vaccination. medRxiv. 2021.
Yang, W., & Shaman, J. (2021). COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India, the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, and implications for vaccination. MedRxiv : the Preprint Server for Health Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.21.21259268
Yang W, Shaman J. COVID-19 Pandemic Dynamics in India, the SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant, and Implications for Vaccination. medRxiv. 2021 Nov 22; PubMed PMID: 34845460.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India, the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, and implications for vaccination. AU - Yang,Wan, AU - Shaman,Jeffrey, Y1 - 2021/11/22/ PY - 2021/11/30/entrez PY - 2021/12/1/pubmed PY - 2021/12/1/medline JF - medRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences JO - medRxiv N2 - BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 Delta pandemic wave in India surged and declined within 3 months; cases then remained low despite the continued spread of Delta elsewhere. Here we aim to estimate key epidemiological characteristics of the Delta variant based on data from India and examine the underpinnings of its dynamics. METHODS: We utilize multiple datasets and model-inference methods to reconstruct COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India during March 2020 - June 2021. We further use model estimates to retrospectively predict cases and deaths during July - mid-Oct 2021, under various vaccination and vaccine effectiveness (VE) settings to estimate the impact of vaccination and VE for non-Delta-infection recoverees. FINDINGS: We estimate that Delta escaped immunity in 34.6% (95% CI: 0 - 64.2%) of individuals with prior wildtype infection and was 57.0% (95% CI: 37.9 - 75.6%) more infectious than wildtype SARS-CoV-2. Models assuming higher VE among those with prior non-Delta infection, particularly after the 1 st dose, generated more accurate predictions than those assuming no such increases (best-performing VE setting: 90/95% vs. 30/67% baseline for the 1 st /2 nd dose). Counterfactual modeling indicates that high vaccination coverage for 1 st vaccine-dose in India (∼50% by mid-Oct 2021) combined with the boosting of VE among recoverees averted around 60% of infections during July - mid-Oct 2021. INTERPRETATION: Non-pharmaceutical interventions, infection seasonality, and high coverage of 1-dose vaccination likely all contributed to pandemic dynamics in India during 2021. Given the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines globally and boosting of VE, for populations with high prior infection rates, prioritizing the first vaccine-dose may protect more people. RESEARCH IN CONTEXT: Evidence before this study: We searched PubMed for studies published through Nov 3, 2021 on the Delta (B.1.617.2) SARS-CoV-2 variant that focused on three areas: 1) transmissibility [search terms: ("Delta variant" OR "B.1.617") AND ("transmission rate" OR "growth rate" OR "secondary attack rate" OR "transmissibility")]; 2) immune response ([search terms: ("Delta variant" OR "B.1.617") AND ("immune evas" OR "immune escape")]; and 3) vaccine effectiveness ([search terms: ("Delta variant" OR "B.1.617") AND ("vaccine effectiveness" OR "vaccine efficacy" OR "vaccination")]. Our search returned 256 papers, from which we read the abstracts and identified 54 relevant studies.Forty-two studies addressed immune evasion and/or vaccine effectiveness. Around half (n=19) of these studies measured the neutralizing ability of convalescent sera and/or vaccine sera against Delta and most reported some reduction (around 2-to 8-fold) compared to ancestral variants. The remainder (n=23) used field observations (often with a test-negative or cohort-design) and reported lower VE against infection but similar VE against hospitalization or death. Together, these laboratory and field observations consistently indicate that Delta can evade preexisting immunity. In addition, five studies reported higher B-cell and/or T-cell vaccine-induced immune response among recovered vaccinees than naïve vaccinees, suggesting potential boosting of pre-existing immunity; however, all studies were based on small samples (n = 10 to 198 individuals).Sixteen studies examined transmissibility, including 1) laboratory experiments (n=6) showing that Delta has higher affinity to the cell receptor, fuses membranes more efficiently, and/or replicates faster than other SARS-CoV-2 variants, providing biological mechanisms for its higher transmissibility; 2) field studies (n=5) showing higher rates of breakthrough infections by Delta and/or higher viral load among Delta infections than other variants; and 3) modeling/mixed studies (n=5) using genomic or case data to estimate the growth rate or reproduction number, reporting a 60-120% increase. Only one study jointly estimated the increase in transmissibility (1.3-1.7-fold, 50% CI) and immune evasion (10-50%, 50% CI); this study also reported a 27.5% (25/91) reinfection rate by Delta.Added value of this study: We utilize observed pandemic dynamics and the differential vaccination coverage for two vaccine doses in India, where the Delta variant was first identified, to estimate the epidemiological properties of Delta and examine the impact of prior non-Delta infection on immune boosting at the population level. We estimate that Delta variant can escape immunity from prior wildtype infection roughly one-third of the time and is around 60% more infectious than wildtype SARS-CoV-2. In addition, our analysis suggests the large increase in population receiving their first vaccine dose (∼50% by end of Oct 2021) combined with the boosting effect of vaccination for non-Delta infection recoverees likely mitigated epidemic intensity in India during July - Oct 2021.Implications of all the available evidence: Our analysis reconstructs the interplay and effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions, infection seasonality, Delta variant emergence, and vaccination on COVID-19 pandemic dynamics in India. Modeling findings support prioritizing the first vaccine dose in populations with high prior infection rates, given vaccine shortages. UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/34845460/COVID_19_pandemic_dynamics_in_India_the_SARS_CoV_2_Delta_variant_and_implications_for_vaccination_ DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -
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