Omicron B.1.1.529 variant infections associated with severe disease are uncommon in a COVID-19 under-vaccinated, high SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence population in Malawi

Mseka, U. L. et al. (2023) Omicron B.1.1.529 variant infections associated with severe disease are uncommon in a COVID-19 under-vaccinated, high SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence population in Malawi. EClinicalMedicine, 56, 101800. (doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101800) (PMID:36600885) (PMCID:PMC9800171)

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Background: The B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in the fourth COVID-19 pandemic wave across the southern African region, including Malawi. The seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and their association with epidemiological trends of hospitalisations and deaths are needed to aid locally relevant public health policy decisions. Methods: We conducted a population-based serosurvey from December 27, 2021 to January 17, 2022, in 7 districts across Malawi to determine the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Serum samples were tested for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain using WANTAI SARS-CoV-2 Receptor Binding Domain total antibody commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We also evaluated COVID-19 epidemiologic trends in Malawi, including cases, hospitalisations and deaths from April 1, 2021 through April 30, 2022, collected using the routine national COVID-19 reporting system. A multivariable logistic regression model was developed to investigate the factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity. Findings: Serum samples were analysed from 4619 participants (57% female; 60% aged 18–50 years), of whom 878/3794 (23%) of vaccine eligible adults had received a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. The overall assay-adjusted seroprevalence was 83.7% (95% confidence interval (CI), 79.3%–93.4%). Seroprevalence was lowest among children <13 years of age (66%) and highest among adults 18–50 years of age (82%). Seroprevalence was higher among vaccinated compared to unvaccinated participants (1 dose, 94% vs. 77%, adjusted odds ratio 4.89 [95% CI, 3.43–7.22]; 2 doses, 97% vs. 77%, aOR 6.62 [95% CI, 4.14–11.3]). Urban residents were more likely to be seropositive than those from rural settings (91% vs. 78%, aOR 2.76 [95% CI, 2.16–3.55]). There was at least a two-fold reduction in the proportion of hospitalisations and deaths among the reported cases in the fourth wave compared to the third wave (hospitalisations, 10.7% (95% CI, 10.2–11.3) vs. 4.86% (95% CI, 4.52–5.23), p < 0.0001; deaths, 3.48% (95% CI, 3.18–3.81) vs. 1.15% (95% CI, 1.00–1.34), p < 0.0001). Interpretation: We report reduction in proportion of hospitalisations and deaths from SARS-CoV-2 infections during the Omicron variant dominated wave in Malawi, in the context of high SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence and low COVID-19 vaccination coverage. These findings suggest that COVID-19 vaccination policy in high seroprevalence settings may need to be amended from mass campaigns to targeted vaccination of reported at-risk populations. Funding: Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (INV-039481).

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Omicron, SARS-CoV-2, anti-RBD antibodies, COVID-19, Malawi.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Crampin, Professor Mia and Ho, Dr Antonia
Authors: Mseka, U. L., Mandolo, J., Nyoni, K., Divala, O., Kambalame, D., Mapemba, D., Kamzati, M., Chibwe, I., Henrion, M. Y. R., Manda, K., Thindwa, D., Mvula, M., Odala, B., Kamng’ona, R., Dzinza, N., Jere, K. C., Feasey, N., Ho, A., Amoah, A. S., Gordon, M., Swarthout, T. D., Crampin, A., Heyderman, R. S., Kagoli, M., Chitsa-Banda, E., Mitambo, C., Phuka, J., Chilima, B., Kasambara, W., Jambo, K. C., and Chauma-Mwale, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:EClinicalMedicine
Publisher:Lancet Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):2589-5370
Published Online:30 December 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in EClinicalMedicine 56: 101800
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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