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Clinical and Virological Features of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern: A Retrospective Cohort Study Comparing B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.315 (Beta), and B.1.617.2 (Delta)
24 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2021More...
Background: The impact of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) on disease severity is unclear. In this retrospective cohort study, we compared outcomes of patients infected with B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and B.1.617.2 with those with wild-type strains from early 2020.
Methods: National surveillance data from 1-January-2021 to 22-May-2021 were obtained from the Ministry of Health, and outcomes in relation to VOC were explored. Detailed patient level data from all SARS-CoV-2 patients with VOC infection admitted to our centre between 20-December-2020 and 12-May-2021 were analysed. Outcomes were compared with a cohort of 846 patients admitted January-April 2020.
Findings: There were 838 VOC infections in Singapore in the study period. After adjusting for age and gender, B.1.617.2 infection was associated with higher odds of oxygen requirement, ICU admission, or death (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 4·90, [95% CI 1·43-30·78]. 157 patients with VOCs were admitted to our centre. After adjusting for age, gender, comorbidities, and vaccination, aOR for pneumonia with B.1.617.2 was 1·88 [95% CI 0·95-3·76]) compared with wild-type. B.1.617.2 was associated with significantly lower PCR Ct values and significantly longer duration of Ct value ≤30 (estimated median duration 18 days for B.1.617.2, 13 days for wild-type). Vaccine breakthrough cases were less severe.
Interpretation: There was a signal toward increased severity associated with B.1.617.2. The association of B.1.617.2 with lower Ct value and longer viral shedding provides a potential mechanism for increased transmissibility. These findings provide a strong impetus for the rapid implementation of vaccination programmes.
Funding Information: National Medical Research Council grants COVID19RF-001 and COVID19RF-008.
Declaration of Interests: BEY reports personal fees from Roche and Sanofi, outside the submitted work. All other authors declare no competing interests.
Ethics Approval Statement: Informed consent for retrospective data collection was waived as approved by the institutional review board (NHG-DSRB reference number 2020/01122).
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; B.1.1.7; B.1.351; B.1.617; variants of concern; severity; mortality
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