Resurgence of SARS-CoV-2: detection by community viral surveillance

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Science  23 Apr 2021:
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf0874


Surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic has mainly relied on case reporting which is biased by health service performance, test availability and test-seeking behaviors. We report a community-wide national representative surveillance program in England involving self-administered swab results from 594,000 individuals tested for SARS-CoV-2, regardless of symptoms, from May to beginning of September 2020. The epidemic declined between May and July 2020 but then increased gradually from mid-August, accelerating into early September 2020 at the start of the second wave. When compared to cases detected through routine surveillance, we report here a longer period of decline and a younger age distribution. Representative community sampling for SARS-CoV-2 can substantially improve situational awareness and feed into the public health response even at low prevalence.

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