Three-quarters attack rate of SARS-CoV-2 in the Brazilian Amazon during a largely unmitigated epidemic

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Science  15 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6526, pp. 288-292
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe9728

Attack rate in Manaus

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) incidence peaked in Manaus, Brazil, in May 2020 with a devastating toll on the city's inhabitants, leaving its health services shattered and cemeteries overwhelmed. Buss et al. collected data from blood donors from Manaus and São Paulo, noted when transmission began to fall, and estimated the final attack rates in October 2020 (see the Perspective by Sridhar and Gurdasani). Heterogeneities in immune protection, population structure, poverty, modes of public transport, and uneven adoption of nonpharmaceutical interventions mean that despite a high attack rate, herd immunity may not have been achieved. This unfortunate city has become a sentinel for how natural population immunity could influence future transmission. Events in Manaus reveal what tragedy and harm to society can unfold if this virus is left to run its course.

Science, this issue p. 288; see also p. 230


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spread rapidly in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in northern Brazil. The attack rate there is an estimate of the final size of the largely unmitigated epidemic that occurred in Manaus. We use a convenience sample of blood donors to show that by June 2020, 1 month after the epidemic peak in Manaus, 44% of the population had detectable immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. Correcting for cases without a detectable antibody response and for antibody waning, we estimate a 66% attack rate in June, rising to 76% in October. This is higher than in São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil, where the estimated attack rate in October was 29%. These results confirm that when poorly controlled, COVID-19 can infect a large proportion of the population, causing high mortality.

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