Publications by authors named "Adeel A Butt"

172 Publications

SARS-CoV-2 PCR and antibody positivity among school staff at the beginning and end of the first school term.

BMC Public Health 2021 11 11;21(1):2070. Epub 2021 Nov 11.

Hamad Medical Corporation, PO Box 3050, Doha, Qatar.

Background: There is controversy regarding the role of in-person attendance in schools and transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Several studies have demonstrated no increase in transmission, while some have reported large outbreaks with in-person attendance. We determined the incidence and risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection among school staff after one school term.

Methods: Nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and blood for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing were obtained from staff at a large international school in Qatar at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year and repeated at the end of the first term.

Results: A total of 376 staff provided samples for testing. At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, the PCR positivity for SARS-CoV-2 was 13%, while seropositivity was 30.1%. A majority of those who tested positive either by PCR or serologically, were non-teaching staff. At the end of the first school term four months later, only 3.5% of the initially antibody-negative staff had seroconverted. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, male gender (OR 11.48, 95%CI 4.77-27.64), non-teaching job category (OR 3.09, 95%CI 1.10-8.64), contact with a confirmed case (OR 20.81, 95%CI 2.90-149.18), and presence of symptoms in the preceding 2 weeks [1-2 symptoms OR 4.82, 95%CI 1.79-12.94); ≥3 symptoms OR 42.30, 95%CI 3.76-476.43) independently predicted SARS-CoV-2 infection in school staff before school starting.

Conclusion: Male gender, non-teaching job, presence of symptoms, and exposure to a confirmed case were associated with higher risk of infection. These data can help policymakers in determining the optimal strategy for school reopening.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-12134-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8582235PMC
November 2021

BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant in Qatar.

Nat Med 2021 Nov 2. Epub 2021 Nov 2.

Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Doha, Qatar.

With the global expansion of the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, we conducted a matched test-negative case-control study to assess the real-world effectiveness of COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccines against infection with Delta in Qatar's population. BNT162b2 effectiveness against any, symptomatic or asymptomatic, Delta infection was 45.3% (95% CI, 22.0-61.6%) ≥14 d after the first vaccine dose, but only 51.9% (95% CI, 47.0-56.4%) ≥14 d after the second dose, with 50% of fully vaccinated individuals receiving their second dose before 11 May 2021. Corresponding mRNA-1273 effectiveness ≥14 d after the first or second dose was 73.7% (95% CI, 58.1-83.5%) and 73.1% (95% CI, 67.5-77.8%), respectively. Notably, effectiveness against Delta-induced severe, critical or fatal disease was 93.4% (95% CI, 85.4-97.0%) for BNT162b2 and 96.1% (95% CI, 71.6-99.5%) for mRNA-1273 ≥ 14 d after the second dose. Our findings show robust effectiveness for both BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 in preventing Delta hospitalization and death in Qatar's population, despite lower effectiveness in preventing infection, particularly for the BNT162b2 vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01583-4DOI Listing
November 2021

Association of Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection With Risk of Breakthrough Infection Following mRNA Vaccination in Qatar.

JAMA 2021 11;326(19):1930-1939

Ministry of Public Health, Doha, Qatar.

Importance: The effect of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection on vaccine protection remains poorly understood.

Objective: To assess protection from SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infection after mRNA vaccination among persons with vs without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Matched-cohort studies in Qatar for the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) and mRNA-1273 (Moderna) vaccines. A total of 1 531 736 individuals vaccinated with either vaccine between December 21, 2020, and September 19, 2021, were followed up beginning 14 days after receiving the second dose until September 19, 2021.

Exposures: Prior SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Incident SARS-CoV-2 infection, defined as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive nasopharyngeal swab regardless of reason for PCR testing or presence of symptoms. Cumulative incidence was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier estimator method.

Results: The BNT162b2-vaccinated cohort comprised 99 226 individuals with and 290 432 matched individuals without prior PCR-confirmed infection (median age, 37 years; 68% male). The mRNA-1273-vaccinated cohort comprised 58 096 individuals with and 169 514 matched individuals without prior PCR-confirmed infection (median age, 36 years; 73% male). Among BNT162b2-vaccinated persons, 159 reinfections occurred in those with and 2509 in those without prior infection 14 days or more after dose 2. Among mRNA-1273-vaccinated persons, 43 reinfections occurred in those with and 368 infections in those without prior infection. Cumulative infection incidence among BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals was an estimated 0.15% (95% CI, 0.12%-0.18%) in those with and 0.83% (95% CI, 0.79%-0.87%) in those without prior infection at 120 days of follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio for breakthrough infection with prior infection, 0.18 [95% CI, 0.15-0.21]; P < .001). Cumulative infection incidence among mRNA-1273-vaccinated individuals was an estimated 0.11% (95% CI, 0.08%-0.15%) in those with and 0.35% (95% CI, 0.32%-0.40%) in those without prior infection at 120 days of follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.35 [95% CI, 0.25-0.48]; P < .001). Vaccinated individuals with prior infection 6 months or more before dose 1 had statistically significantly lower risk for breakthrough infection than those vaccinated less than 6 months before dose 1 (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.62 [95% CI, 0.42-0.92]; P = .02 for BNT162b2 and 0.40 [95% CI, 0.18-0.91]; P = .03 for mRNA-1273 vaccination).

Conclusions And Relevance: Prior SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with a statistically significantly lower risk for breakthrough infection among individuals receiving the BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 vaccines in Qatar between December 21, 2020, and September 19, 2021. The observational study design precludes direct comparisons of infection risk between the 2 vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.19623DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8561432PMC
November 2021

Severity, criticality, and fatality of the SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 Oct 17. Epub 2021 Oct 17.

Ministry of Public Health, Doha, Qatar.

Beta (B.1.351) variant COVID-19 disease was investigated in Qatar. Compared to Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, odds of progressing to severe disease were 1.24-fold (95% CI: 1.11-1.39) higher for Beta. Odds of progressing to critical disease were 1.49-fold (95% CI: 1.13-1.97) higher. Odds of COVID-19 death were 1.57-fold (95% CI: 1.03-2.43) higher.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciab909DOI Listing
October 2021

SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in arriving air Travelers in Qatar.

J Travel Med 2021 Oct 8. Epub 2021 Oct 8.

Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar.

Among 352 174 airline travelers entering Qatar, 8236 (2.34%) tested positive on or within the first seven days of arrival, with 3789 (1.08%) testing positive at the time of arrival and the remaining 4447 (1.26%) testing negative at arrival but positive 1 week later.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jtm/taab163DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8524449PMC
October 2021

SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness in preventing confirmed infection in pregnant women.

J Clin Invest 2021 Dec;131(23)

Department of Population Health Sciences, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA and Doha, Qatar.

BackgroundSARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications and neonatal respiratory distress and hospitalization. Effectiveness of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in pregnant women is not known.MethodsAll women with confirmed pregnancy who presented to the national referral hospital in Qatar between December 20, 2020, and May 30, 2021, with at least 1 SARS-CoV-2 test and not testing prior to pregnancy were included. We determined the vaccine effectiveness of mRNA vaccines in preventing confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy using both cohort and test-negative case-control designs. Analyses were adjusted for age group, nationality, and gestational age.ResultsAmong 4534 pregnant women, there were 407 vaccinated and 407 unvaccinated women in the matched cohort analysis. Vaccine effectiveness was 87.6% (95%CI 44.1%-97.2%) at least 14 days after the second dose. There were 386 test-positive and 834 matched women in the test-negative case control analysis. Vaccine effectiveness was 86.8% (95%CI 47.5%-98.5%) at least 14 days after the second dose. Adjustment for age, nationality, and gestational age yielded similar results for both designs. In the test-negative analysis, vaccine effectiveness at least 14 days after the first dose but before the second dose was 40.8% (95% CI 0.0%-80.4%). Of the 386 test-positive pregnant women, 74 cases were Alpha variant, 163 cases were Beta variant, and 156 cases were variants of unknown status. There were 9 severe or critical disease cases and no deaths in the test-positive pregnant women, all of whom were unvaccinated.ConclusionThe mRNA vaccines provide a high level of protection against documented SARS-CoV-2 infection, which supports the inclusion of pregnant women in vaccination campaigns.FUNDINGHamad Medical Corporation, Weill Cornell Medicine Qatar, and the Ministry of Public Health Qatar.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI153662DOI Listing
December 2021

Waning of BNT162b2 Vaccine Protection against SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Qatar.

N Engl J Med 2021 Oct 6. Epub 2021 Oct 6.

From the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group (H.C., S.A., L.J.A.-R.) and the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Disease Epidemiology Analytics on HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Viral Hepatitis (H.C., S.A., L.J.A.-R.), Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Qatar Foundation-Education City, the Department of Pathology, Sidra Medicine (P.T., M.R.H.), the Biomedical Research Center, Member of QU Health (H.M.Y., F.M.B., H.A.A.K., P.C., G.K.N.), the Departments of Biomedical Science (H.M.Y., F.M.B., H.A.A.K., G.K.N.) and Public Health (H.F.A.R., L.J.A.-R.), College of Health Sciences, and the Mathematics Program, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences (H.H.A.), Qatar University, Hamad Medical Corporation (P.C., Z.A.K., E.A.K., A.J., A.H.K., A.N.L., R.M.S., A.A.B., A.A.K.), Primary Health Care Corporation (M.G.A.K.), and the Ministry of Public Health (H.E.A.R., M.H.A.-T., R.B.) - all in Doha, Qatar; Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queens University, Belfast, United Kingdom (P.C.); and the Department of Population Health Sciences, Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University, New York (A.A.B., L.J.A.-R.).

Background: Waning of vaccine protection against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection or coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is a concern. The persistence of BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine effectiveness against infection and disease in Qatar, where the B.1.351 (or beta) and B.1.617.2 (or delta) variants have dominated incidence and polymerase-chain-reaction testing is done on a mass scale, is unclear.

Methods: We used a matched test-negative, case-control study design to estimate vaccine effectiveness against any SARS-CoV-2 infection and against any severe, critical, or fatal case of Covid-19, from January 1 to September 5, 2021.

Results: Estimated BNT162b2 effectiveness against any SARS-CoV-2 infection was negligible in the first 2 weeks after the first dose. It increased to 36.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33.2 to 40.2) in the third week after the first dose and reached its peak at 77.5% (95% CI, 76.4 to 78.6) in the first month after the second dose. Effectiveness declined gradually thereafter, with the decline accelerating after the fourth month to reach approximately 20% in months 5 through 7 after the second dose. Effectiveness against symptomatic infection was higher than effectiveness against asymptomatic infection but waned similarly. Variant-specific effectiveness waned in the same pattern. Effectiveness against any severe, critical, or fatal case of Covid-19 increased rapidly to 66.1% (95% CI, 56.8 to 73.5) by the third week after the first dose and reached 96% or higher in the first 2 months after the second dose; effectiveness persisted at approximately this level for 6 months.

Conclusions: BNT162b2-induced protection against SARS-COV-2 infection appeared to wane rapidly following its peak after the second dose, but protection against hospitalization and death persisted at a robust level for 6 months after the second dose. (Funded by Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar and others.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2114114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8522799PMC
October 2021

SARS-CoV-2 infection hospitalization, severity, criticality, and fatality rates in Qatar.

Sci Rep 2021 09 14;11(1):18182. Epub 2021 Sep 14.

Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Doha, Qatar.

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic resulted in considerable morbidity and mortality as well as severe economic and societal disruptions. Despite scientific progress, true infection severity, factoring both diagnosed and undiagnosed infections, remains poorly understood. This study aimed to estimate SARS-CoV-2 age-stratified and overall morbidity and mortality rates based on analysis of extensive epidemiological data for the pervasive epidemic in Qatar, a country where < 9% of the population are ≥ 50 years. We show that SARS-CoV-2 severity and fatality demonstrate a striking age dependence with low values for those aged < 50 years, but rapidly growing rates for those ≥ 50 years. Age dependence was particularly pronounced for infection criticality rate and infection fatality rate. With Qatar's young population, overall SARS-CoV-2 severity and fatality were not high with < 4 infections in every 1000 being severe or critical and < 2 in every 10,000 being fatal. Only 13 infections in every 1000 received any hospitalization in acute-care-unit beds and < 2 in every 1000 were hospitalized in intensive-care-unit beds. However, we show that these rates would have been much higher if Qatar's population had the demographic structure of Europe or the United States. Epidemic expansion in nations with young populations may lead to considerably lower disease burden than currently believed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-97606-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8440606PMC
September 2021

Outcomes among patients with breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection after vaccination in a high-risk national population.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 Oct 28;40:101117. Epub 2021 Aug 28.

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Background: Breakthrough infections after SARS-CoV-2 infection have been reported. Clinical outcomes among persons with breakthrough infection are not known.

Methods: We retrospectively identified all Veterans with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection >14 days after the second dose of either Pfizer-BNT-162b2 or Moderna-mRNA-1273 vaccine between December 15, 2020 and March 30, 2021, and age, race, sex, body mass index, Charlson comorbidity index, geographical location, and date of positive test matched unvaccinated controls with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our primary endpoint was the rate or severe disease defined as hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, or death in both groups.

Findings: Among 258,716 persons with both doses of vaccines and 756,150 without any vaccination, we identified 271 (0.1%) vaccinated persons with breakthrough infection and 48,114 (6.4%) unvaccinated matched controls with infection between December 15, 2020 and March 30, 2021. Among 213 matched pairs, symptoms were present in 33.3% of those with breakthrough infection and 42.2% of the controls. A total of 79 persons met the definition of severe disease or death (42 in the breakthrough infection group and 37 in the control group). Rate of severe disease or death per 1,000 person-days (95% CI) was 4.08 (2.64,5.31) among those with breakthrough infection and 3.6 (2.53,4.73) among the controls ( = 0.58). Rate was similar among both groups regardless of age-group, race, BMI or presence of comorbidities. Among persons with breakthrough infection and matched controls with infection, vaccination was not associated with a lower risk of severe disease or death in the main analyses but was associated with a lower risk when matching did not include geographic location (HR 0.62, 95% CI 0.43,0.91).

Interpretation: Demographic or clinical factors are not associated with a lower risk of severe disease or death in persons with breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Funding: None.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8400515PMC
October 2021

SARS-CoV-2 Infection Is at Herd Immunity in the Majority Segment of the Population of Qatar.

Open Forum Infect Dis 2021 Aug 2;8(8):ofab221. Epub 2021 May 2.

Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar.

Background: Qatar experienced a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic that disproportionately affected the craft and manual worker (CMW) population, who comprise 60% of the total population. This study aimed to assess ever and/or current infection prevalence in this population.

Methods: A cross-sectional population-based survey was conducted during July 26 to September 09, 2020, to assess both anti-SARS-CoV-2 positivity through serological testing and current infection positivity through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Associations with antibody and PCR positivity were identified through regression analyses.

Results: The study included 2641 participants, 69.3% of whom were <40 years of age. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 positivity was 55.3% (95% CI, 53.3%-57.3%) and was significantly associated with nationality, geographic location, educational attainment, occupation, and previous infection diagnosis. PCR positivity was 11.3% (95% CI, 9.9%-12.8%) and was significantly associated with nationality, geographic location, occupation, contact with an infected person, and reporting 2 or more symptoms. Infection positivity (antibody and/or PCR positive) was 60.6% (95% CI, 58.6%-62.5%). The proportion of antibody-positive CMWs who had a prior SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis was 9.3% (95% CI, 7.9%-11.0%). Only seven infections were ever severe, and only 1 was ever critical-an infection severity rate of 0.5% (95% CI, 0.2%-1.0%).

Conclusions: Six in every 10 CMWs in Qatar have been infected, suggestive of reaching the herd immunity threshold. Infection severity was low, with only 1 in every 200 infections progressing to be severe or critical. Only 1 in every 10 infections had been previously diagnosed, which is suggestive of mostly asymptomatic or mild infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ofid/ofab221DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8135898PMC
August 2021

Outcomes Among Patients with Breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 Infection After Vaccination.

Int J Infect Dis 2021 Sep 8;110:353-358. Epub 2021 Aug 8.

Weil Cornell Medical College, New York, NY and Doha, Qatar; Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Doha, Qatar; World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Disease Epidemiology Analytics on HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Viral Hepatitis, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Qatar Foundation - Education City, Doha, Qatar.

Background: Breakthrough infections after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination have been reported. Clinical outcomes in these persons are not widely known.

Methods: We evaluated all vaccinated persons with breakthrough infection ≥14 days after the second vaccine dose and unvaccinated controls matched on age, sex, nationality, and reason for testing between December 23, 2020 and March 28, 2021 in Qatar. Our primary outcome was severe disease defined as hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, or death.

Results: Among 456 persons cases of breakthrough infection and 456 unvaccinated matched controls with confirmed infection, median age was 45 years, 60.7% were males, and ≥1 comorbid condition was present in 61.2% of the vaccinated and 47.8% of the unvaccinated persons (P=0.009). Severe disease was recorded in 48 (10.5%) of the vaccinated and 121 (26.5%) of the unvaccinated group (P<0.001). Factors associated with severe disease included increasing age (HR vs. <40 years old: >40-60 years, HR 2.32; >60-70 years, HR 4.34; >70 years, HR 5.43); presence of symptoms at baseline (HR 2.42, 95%CI 1.44-4.07); and being unvaccinated (HR 2.84, 95%CI 1.80-4.47).

Conclusions: In persons with breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection, increasing age is associated with a higher risk of severe disease or death, while vaccination is associated with a lower risk. Presence of comorbidities was not associated with severe disease or death among persons with breakthrough infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2021.08.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8349447PMC
September 2021

Association between HIV and incident pulmonary hypertension in US Veterans: a retrospective cohort study.

Lancet Healthy Longev 2021 Jul 16;2(7):e417-e425. Epub 2021 Jun 16.

Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA.

Background: Pulmonary hypertension incidence based on echocardiographic estimates of pulmonary artery systolic pressure in people living with HIV remains unstudied. We aimed to determine whether people living with HIV have higher incidence and risk of pulmonary hypertension than uninfected individuals.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we evaluated data from participants in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) referred for echocardiography with baseline pulmonary artery systolic pressure measures of 35 mm Hg or less. Incident pulmonary hypertension was defined as pulmonary artery systolic pressure higher than 35 mm Hg on subsequent echocardiogram. We used Poisson regression to estimate incidence rates (IRs) of pulmonary hypertension by HIV status. We then estimated hazard ratios (HRs) by HIV status using Cox proportional hazards regression. We further categorised veterans with HIV by CD4 count or HIV viral load to assess the association between pulmonary hypertension risk and HIV severity. Models included age, sex, race or ethnicity, prevalent heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, smoking status, diabetes, body-mass index, estimated glomerular filtration rate, hepatitis C virus infection, liver cirrhosis, and drug use as covariates.

Findings: Of 21 314 VACS participants with at least one measured PASP on or after April 1, 2003, 13 028 VACS participants were included in the analytic sample (4174 [32%] with HIV and 8854 [68%] without HIV). Median age was 58 years and 12 657 (97%) were male. Median follow-up time was 3·1 years (IQR 0·9-6·8) spanning from April 1, 2003, to Sept 30, 2017. Unadjusted IRs per 1000 person-years were higher in veterans with HIV (IR 28·6 [95% CI 26·1-31·3]) than in veterans without HIV (IR 23·4 [21·9-24·9]; p=0·0004). The risk of incident pulmonary hypertension was higher among veterans with HIV than among veterans without HIV (unadjusted HR 1·25 [95% CI 1·12-1·40], p<0·0001). After multivariable adjustment, this association was slightly attenuated but remained significant (HR 1·18 [1·05-1·34], p=0·0062). Veterans with HIV who had a CD4 count lower than 200 cells per μL or of 200-499 cells per μL had a higher risk of pulmonary hypertension than did veterans without HIV (HR 1·94 [1·49-2·54], p<0·0001, for those with <200 cell μL and HR 1·29 [1·08-1·53], p=0·0048, for those with 200-499 cells per μL). Similarly, veterans with HIV who had HIV viral loads of 500 copies per mL or more had a higher risk of pulmonary hypertension than did veterans without HIV (HR 1·88 [1·46-2·42], p<0·0001).

Interpretation: HIV is associated with pulmonary hypertension incidence, adjusting for risk factors. Low CD4 cell count and high HIV viral load contribute to increased pulmonary hypertension risk among veterans with HIV. Thus, as with other cardiopulmonary diseases, suppression of HIV should be prioritised to lessen the burden of pulmonary hypertension in people living with HIV.

Funding: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (National Institutes of Health, USA); National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (National Institutes of Health, USA).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s2666-7568(21)00116-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294078PMC
July 2021

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Effectiveness in a High-Risk National Population in a Real-World Setting.

Ann Intern Med 2021 Oct 20;174(10):1404-1408. Epub 2021 Jul 20.

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (F.B.M.).

Background: With the emergency use authorization of multiple vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 infection, data are urgently needed to determine their effectiveness in a real-world setting.

Objective: To evaluate the short-term effectiveness of vaccines in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Design: Test-negative case-control study using conditional logistic regression.

Setting: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.

Participants: All veterans who had testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection between 15 December 2020 and 4 March 2021 and no confirmed infection before 15 December 2020.

Intervention: SARS-CoV-2 vaccination with either the BNT-162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) or mRNA-1273 (Moderna) vaccine as part of routine clinical care.

Measurements: Effectiveness of vaccination against confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Results: Among 54 360 persons who tested positive and 54 360 propensity score-matched control participants, the median age was 61 years, 83.6% were male, and 62% were White. Median body mass index was 31 kg/m among those who tested positive and 30 kg/m among those who tested negative. Among those who tested positive, 9800 (18.0%) had been vaccinated; among those who tested negative, 17 825 (32.8%) had been vaccinated. Overall vaccine effectiveness 7 or more days after the second dose was 97.1% (95% CI, 96.6% to 97.5%). Effectiveness was 96.2% (CI, 95.5% to 96.9%) for the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT-162b2 vaccine and 98.2% (CI, 97.5% to 98.6%) for the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine. Effectiveness remained above 95% regardless of age group, sex, race, or presence of comorbidities.

Limitations: Predominantly male population; lack of data on disease severity, mortality, and effectiveness by SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern; and short-term follow-up.

Conclusion: Currently used vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 infection are highly effective in preventing confirmed infection in a high-risk population in a real-world setting.

Primary Funding Source: None.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7326/M21-1577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8381771PMC
October 2021

CD4+ cell count and outcomes among HIV-infected compared with uninfected medical ICU survivors in a national cohort.

AIDS 2021 11;35(14):2355-2365

Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven.

Background: People with HIV (PWH) with access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) experience excess morbidity and mortality compared with uninfected patients, particularly those with persistent viremia and without CD4+ cell recovery. We compared outcomes for medical intensive care unit (MICU) survivors with unsuppressed (>500 copies/ml) and suppressed (≤500 copies/ml) HIV-1 RNA and HIV-uninfected survivors, adjusting for CD4+ cell count.

Setting: We studied 4537 PWH [unsuppressed = 38%; suppressed = 62%; 72% Veterans Affairs-based (VA) and 10 531 (64% VA) uninfected Veterans who survived MICU admission after entering the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) between fiscal years 2001 and 2015.

Methods: Primary outcomes were all-cause 30-day and 6-month readmission and mortality, adjusted for demographics, CD4+ cell category (≥350 (reference); 200-349; 50-199; <50), comorbidity and prior healthcare utilization using proportional hazards models. We also adjusted for severity of illness using discharge VACS Index (VI) 2.0 among VA-based survivors.

Results: In adjusted models, CD4+ categories <350 cells/μl were associated with increased risk for both outcomes up to 6 months, and risk increased with lower CD4+ categories (e.g. 6-month mortality CD4+ 200-349 hazard ratio [HR] = 1.35 [1.12-1.63]; CD4+ <50 HR = 2.14 [1.72-2.66]); unsuppressed status was not associated with outcomes. After adjusting for VI in models stratified by HIV, VI quintiles were strongly associated with both outcomes at both time points.

Conclusion: PWH who survive MICU admissions are at increased risk for worse outcomes compared with uninfected, especially those without CD4+ cell recovery. Severity of illness at discharge is the strongest predictor for outcomes regardless of HIV status. Strategies including intensive case management for HIV-specific and general organ dysfunction may improve outcomes for MICU survivors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/QAD.0000000000003019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8563390PMC
November 2021

mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants and severe COVID-19 disease in Qatar.

Nat Med 2021 09 9;27(9):1614-1621. Epub 2021 Jul 9.

Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Qatar Foundation-Education City, Doha, Qatar.

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to be a global health concern. The mRNA-1273 (Moderna) vaccine was reported to have an efficacy of 94.1% at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 due to infection with 'wild-type' variants in a randomized clinical trial. Here, we assess the real-world effectiveness of this vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, specifically B.1.1.7 (Alpha) and B.1.351 (Beta), in Qatar, a population that comprises mainly working-age adults, using a matched test-negative, case-control study design. We show that vaccine effectiveness was negligible for 2 weeks after the first dose, but increased rapidly in the third and fourth weeks immediately before administration of a second dose. Effectiveness against B.1.1.7 infection was 88.1% (95% confidence interval (CI): 83.7-91.5%) ≥14 days after the first dose but before the second dose, and was 100% (95% CI: 91.8-100.0%) ≥14 days after the second dose. Analogous effectiveness against B.1.351 infection was 61.3% after the first dose (95% CI: 56.5-65.5%) and 96.4% after the second dose (95% CI: 91.9-98.7%). Effectiveness against any severe, critical or fatal COVID-19 disease due to any SARS-CoV-2 infection (predominantly B.1.1.7 and B.1.351) was 81.6% (95% CI: 71.0-88.8%) and 95.7% (95% CI: 73.4-99.9%) after the first and second dose, respectively. The mRNA-1273 vaccine is highly effective against B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 infections, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, and against any COVID-19 hospitalization and death, even after a single dose.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01446-yDOI Listing
September 2021

Epidemiological impact of prioritising SARS-CoV-2 vaccination by antibody status: mathematical modelling analyses.

BMJ Innov 2021 Apr 31;7(2):327-336. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Doha, Qatar.

Background: Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 have been developed, but their availability falls far short of global needs. This study aimed to investigate the impact of prioritising available doses on the basis of recipient antibody status, that is by exposure status, using Qatar as an example.

Methods: Vaccination impact (defined as the reduction in infection incidence and the number of vaccinations needed to avert one infection or one adverse disease outcome) was assessed under different scale-up scenarios using a deterministic meta-population mathematical model describing SARS-CoV-2 transmission and disease progression in the presence of vaccination.

Results: For a vaccine that protects against infection with an efficacy of 95%, half as many vaccinations were needed to avert one infection, disease outcome or death by prioritising antibody-negative individuals for vaccination. Prioritisation by antibody status reduced incidence at a faster rate and led to faster elimination of infection and return to normalcy. Further prioritisation by age group amplified the gains of prioritisation by antibody status. Gains from prioritisation by antibody status were largest in settings where the proportion of the population already infected at the commencement of vaccination was 30%-60%. For a vaccine that only protects against disease and not infection, vaccine impact was reduced by half, whether this impact was measured in terms of averted infections or disease outcomes, but the relative gains from using antibody status to prioritise vaccination recipients were similar.

Conclusions: Major health and economic gains can be achieved more quickly by prioritizing those who are antibody-negative while doses of the vaccine remain in short supply.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjinnov-2021-000677DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8025209PMC
April 2021

Depression as a Risk Factor for Incident Ischemic Stroke Among HIV-Positive Veterans in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 07 25;10(13):e017637. Epub 2021 Jun 25.

Department of Psychology Indianapolis University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Indianapolis IN.

Background HIV infection and depression are each associated with increased ischemic stroke risk. Whether depression is a risk factor for stroke within the HIV population is unknown. Methods and Results We analyzed data on 106 333 (33 528 HIV-positive; 72 805 HIV-negative) people who were free of baseline cardiovascular disease from an observational cohort of HIV-positive people and matched uninfected veterans in care from April 1, 2003 through December 31, 2014. () codes from medical records were used to determine baseline depression and incident stroke. Depression occurred in 19.5% of HIV-positive people. After a median of 9.2 years of follow-up, stroke rates were highest among people with both HIV and depression and lowest among those with neither condition. In Cox proportional hazard models, depression was associated with an increased risk of stroke for HIV-positive people after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and cerebrovascular risk factors (hazard ratio [HR], 1.18; 95% CI: 1.03-1.34; 0.014). The depression-stroke relationship was attenuated by alcohol use disorders, cocaine use, and baseline antidepressant use, and unaffected by combined antiretroviral therapy use or individual antiretroviral agents. A numerically higher HR of depression on stroke was found among those younger than 60 years. Conclusions Depression is associated with an increased risk of stroke among HIV-positive people after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, traditional cerebrovascular risk factors, and HIV-specific factors. Alcohol use disorders, cocaine use, and baseline antidepressant use accounted for some of the observed stroke risk. Depression may be a novel, independent risk factor for ischemic stroke in HIV, particularly among younger people.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.119.017637DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403311PMC
July 2021

Metabolic Syndrome and Related Inflammation, Prevalence, and Predictive Value of C-Reactive Protein in South Asian Youths.

Metab Syndr Relat Disord 2021 Nov 21;19(9):483-490. Epub 2021 Jun 21.

Centennial Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is widely prevalent in the South Asian (SA) population. The syndrome leads to a high risk of premature atherosclerosis and diabetes. Obesity, specifically abdominal obesity, is a central pathological mechanism of disease in this population. Ethnic-specific modified measurements of waist circumference (WC) have been proposed for the diagnosis in various populations, including those of SA phenotype. We studied the prevalence of MetS and subclinical inflammation in young physically fit students in a major urban city of Pakistan. Specifically, we addressed the new lower WC measurement and its relationship with MetS and inflammation. C-reactive protein (CRP) was measured as a marker for subclinical inflammation. A total of 509 respondents (mean age 19.86 years) filled out self-administered questionnaires for data collection. Measurements were made by trained nurses using standardized equipment and fasting blood samples were drawn for chemical analysis. Data were verified, tabulated, and statistically analyzed. MetS was identified in 6% of this cohort and 16% had subclinical information as measured by CRP. Higher CRP levels were noted with higher WC and independently identified subjects with MetS. CRP levels of ≥2.2 mg/dL predicted presence of MetS. MetS is widely prevalent in young, otherwise physically fit, individuals. High proportion of this young cohort had evidence of subclinical inflammation as measured by CRP. Increasing WC showed significant correlation with higher CRP levels, level of 2.2 mg/dL independently identified MetS in this cohort.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/met.2021.0016DOI Listing
November 2021

Association of Syndemic Unhealthy Alcohol Use, Smoking, and Depressive Symptoms on Incident Cardiovascular Disease among Veterans With and Without HIV-Infection.

AIDS Behav 2021 Sep 8;25(9):2852-2862. Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2525 West End Avenue, Office 315, Nashville, TN, 37203, USA.

Unhealthy alcohol use, smoking, and depressive symptoms are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Little is known about their co-occurrence - termed a syndemic, defined as the synergistic effect of two or more conditions-on CVD risk in people with HIV (PWH). We used data from 5621 CVD-free participants (51% PWH) in the Veteran's Aging Cohort Study-8, a prospective, observational study of veterans followed from 2002 to 2014 to assess the association between this syndemic and incident CVD by HIV status. Diagnostic codes identified cases of CVD (acute myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, and coronary revascularization). Validated measures of alcohol use, smoking, and depressive symptoms were used. Baseline number of syndemic conditions was categorized (0, 1, ≥ 2 conditions). Multivariable Cox Proportional Hazards regressions estimated risk of the syndemic (≥ 2 conditions) on incident CVD by HIV-status. There were 1149 cases of incident CVD (52% PWH) during the follow-up (median 10.1 years). Of the total sample, 64% met our syndemic definition. The syndemic was associated with greater risk for incident CVD among PWH (Hazard Ratio [HR] 1.87 [1.47-2.38], p < 0.001) and HIV-negative veterans (HR 1.70 [1.35-2.13], p < 0.001), compared to HIV-negative with zero conditions. Among those with the syndemic, CVD risk was not statistically significantly higher among PWH vs. HIV-negative (HR 1.10 [0.89, 1.37], p = .38). Given the high prevalence of this syndemic combined with excess risk of CVD, these findings support linked-screening and treatment efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10461-021-03327-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8376776PMC
September 2021

SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in the urban population of Qatar: An analysis of antibody testing on a sample of 112,941 individuals.

iScience 2021 Jun 24;24(6):102646. Epub 2021 May 24.

Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Cornell University, Qatar Foundation - Education City, P.O. Box 24144, Doha, Qatar.

The study objective was to the assess level of detectable severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies in the urban population of Qatar. Antibody testing was performed on residual blood specimens for 112,941 individuals (∼10% of Qatar's urban population) attending for routine/other clinical care between May 12 and September 9, 2020. Seropositivity was 13.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 13.1-13.6%) and was independently associated with sex, age, nationality, clinical care encounter type, and testing date. Median optical density (antibody titer) among antibody-positive persons was 27.0 (range = 1.0-150.0), with higher values associated with age, nationality, clinical care encounter type, and testing date. Seropositivity by nationality was positively correlated with the likelihood of having higher antibody titers (Pearson correlation coefficient = 0.85; 95% CI = 0.47-0.96). Less than two in every 10 individuals in Qatar's urban population had detectable antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, suggesting this population is still far from herd immunity and at risk of subsequent infection waves. Higher antibody titer appears to be a biomarker of repeated exposures to the infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2021.102646DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8142077PMC
June 2021

Rate and risk factors for breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection after vaccination.

J Infect 2021 08 28;83(2):237-279. Epub 2021 May 28.

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; CRISMA Center, Department Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2021.05.021DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8159711PMC
August 2021

SARS-CoV-2 antibody-positivity protects against reinfection for at least seven months with 95% efficacy.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 May 28;35:100861. Epub 2021 Apr 28.

Ministry of Public Health, Doha, Qatar.

Background: Reinfection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been documented, raising public health concerns. SARS-CoV-2 reinfections were assessed in a cohort of antibody-positive persons in Qatar.

Methods: All SARS-CoV-2 antibody-positive persons from April 16 to December 31, 2020 with a PCR-positive swab ≥14 days after the first-positive antibody test were investigated for evidence of reinfection. Viral genome sequencing was conducted for paired viral specimens to confirm reinfection. Incidence of reinfection was compared to incidence of infection in the complement cohort of those who were antibody-negative.

Findings: Among 43,044 antibody-positive persons who were followed for a median of 16.3 weeks (range: 0-34.6), 314 individuals (0.7%) had at least one PCR positive swab ≥14 days after the first-positive antibody test. Of these individuals, 129 (41.1%) had supporting epidemiological evidence for reinfection. Reinfection was next investigated using viral genome sequencing. Applying the viral-genome-sequencing confirmation rate, the incidence rate of reinfection was estimated at 0.66 per 10,000 person-weeks (95% CI: 0.56-0.78). Incidence rate of reinfection versus month of follow-up did not show any evidence of waning of immunity for over seven months of follow-up. Meanwhile, in the complement cohort of 149,923 antibody-negative persons followed for a median of 17.0 weeks (range: 0-45.6), incidence rate of infection was estimated at 13.69 per 10,000 person-weeks (95% CI: 13.22-14.14). Efficacy of natural infection against reinfection was estimated at 95.2% (95% CI: 94.1-96.0%). Reinfections were less severe than primary infections. Only one reinfection was severe, two were moderate, and none were critical or fatal. Most reinfections (66.7%) were diagnosed incidentally through random or routine testing, or through contact tracing.

Interpretation: Reinfection is rare in the young and international population of Qatar. Natural infection appears to elicit strong protection against reinfection with an efficacy ~95% for at least seven months.

Funding: Biomedical Research Program, the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Biomathematics Research Core, and the Genomics Core, all at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, the Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation, and the Qatar Genome Programme.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100861DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8079668PMC
May 2021

Herd Immunity against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection in 10 Communities, Qatar.

Emerg Infect Dis 2021 05;27(5):1343-1352

We investigated what proportion of the population acquired severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and whether the herd immunity threshold has been reached in 10 communities in Qatar. The study included 4,970 participants during June 21-September 9, 2020. Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were detected by using an electrochemiluminescence immunoassay. Seropositivity ranged from 54.9% (95% CI 50.2%-59.4%) to 83.8% (95% CI 79.1%-87.7%) across communities and showed a pooled mean of 66.1% (95% CI 61.5%-70.6%). A range of other epidemiologic measures indicated that active infection is rare, with limited if any sustainable infection transmission for clusters to occur. Only 5 infections were ever severe and 1 was critical in these young communities; infection severity rate of 0.2% (95% CI 0.1%-0.4%). Specific communities in Qatar have or nearly reached herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2 infection: 65%-70% of the population has been infected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2705.204365DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8084480PMC
May 2021

Steps and Challenges in Creating and Managing Quarantine Capacity During a Global Emergency - Qatar's Experience.

J Infect Public Health 2021 May 9;14(5):598-600. Epub 2021 Feb 9.

Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar; Weill Cornell Medical College, Doha, Qatar and New York, NY, USA.

Background: COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the lack of adequate and appropriate quarantine capacity globally. Most countries lack the knowledge and/or capacity to set up and manage quarantine facilities at a national scale.

Methods: The State of Qatar developed a systematic plan to create and manage quarantine facilities for persons with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection or returning travelers and residents. A checklist was developed to streamline the process and to help other institutions requiring such guidance.

Results: Three distinct stages were identified: acquisition, commissioning and active operations. Steps required for each stage were identified and added to the checklist.

Conclusion: We share our experience and a checklist for setting up new quarantine capacity at a national level. Such checklists can serve as a critical tool to quickly and efficiently ramp up capacity in this setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jiph.2021.01.018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7871108PMC
May 2021

Natural history of hepatitis C virus infection in a large national seroconversion cohort in the direct-acting antiviral agent era: Results from ERCHIVES.

J Viral Hepat 2021 06 28;28(6):916-924. Epub 2021 Mar 28.

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) natural history studies are limited by not knowing the time of infection, small numbers and non-representative populations. No studies are available from the direct-acting antiviral agents (DAA) era. We created the largest known cohort of persons with HCV with a known window of seroconversion in the DAA era. We compared the annual cumulative incident events and incidence rate/1000 person-years of follow-up for liver cirrhosis, hepatic decompensation, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and mortality from the time of seroconversion among untreated and those treated and attaining a sustained virologic response (SVR). Among 12,881 persons in the final analyses, 10,417 had never been treated for HCV, 2464 (23.6%) were treated with a DAA regimen and 1836 (74.5%) attained SVR. After 9 years of follow-up, cirrhosis was diagnosed in 17.4% of untreated and 13.6% of the SVR group. Overall, 29.5% in the untreated versus 3.5% in the SVR group died. Incidence rates/1000 person-years of follow-up (95% CI) for untreated versus SVR group were 22.7 (21.6, 23.9) versus 19.5 (17.0, 21.9) for cirrhosis (p = 0.03), 0.1 (0.03, 0.2) versus 0.07 (-0.07, 0.2) for HCC (p = 0.74) and 35.4 (34.0, 36.8) versus 4.53 (3.4, 5.7) for mortality (p < 0.0001). After excluding those with alcohol-related diagnoses at baseline, the difference in cirrhosis was not statistically significant. Cirrhosis and mortality occur early and steadily increase over the first decade after acquiring HCV infection, while HCC is rarely observed. Those treated with a DAA regimen have sharply lower cirrhosis and mortality rates, particularly among those without alcohol abuse or dependence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvh.13507DOI Listing
June 2021

Characterizing the Qatar advanced-phase SARS-CoV-2 epidemic.

Sci Rep 2021 03 18;11(1):6233. Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Ministry of Public Health, Doha, Qatar.

The overarching objective of this study was to provide the descriptive epidemiology of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic in Qatar by addressing specific research questions through a series of national epidemiologic studies. Sources of data were the centralized and standardized national databases for SARS-CoV-2 infection. By July 10, 2020, 397,577 individuals had been tested for SARS-CoV-2 using polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR), of whom 110,986 were positive, a positivity cumulative rate of 27.9% (95% CI 27.8-28.1%). As of July 5, case severity rate, based on World Health Organization (WHO) severity classification, was 3.4% and case fatality rate was 1.4 per 1,000 persons. Age was by far the strongest predictor of severe, critical, or fatal infection. PCR positivity of nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal swabs in a national community survey (May 6-7) including 1,307 participants was 14.9% (95% CI 11.5-19.0%); 58.5% of those testing positive were asymptomatic. Across 448 ad-hoc testing campaigns in workplaces and residential areas including 26,715 individuals, pooled mean PCR positivity was 15.6% (95% CI 13.7-17.7%). SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence was 24.0% (95% CI 23.3-24.6%) in 32,970 residual clinical blood specimens. Antibody prevalence was only 47.3% (95% CI 46.2-48.5%) in those who had at least one PCR positive result, but 91.3% (95% CI 89.5-92.9%) among those who were PCR positive > 3 weeks before serology testing. Qatar has experienced a large SARS-CoV-2 epidemic that is rapidly declining, apparently due to growing immunity levels in the population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85428-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7973743PMC
March 2021

Social vulnerability in persons with chronic hepatitis C virus infection is associated with a higher risk of prescription opioid use.

Sci Rep 2021 03 15;11(1):5883. Epub 2021 Mar 15.

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.

Prescription opioid use (POU) is often a precursor to opioid use disorder (OUD) and subsequent consequences. Persons with chronic hepatitis C virus infection (CHC) may be at a higher risk of POU due to a higher comorbidity burden and social vulnerability factors. We sought to determine the burden of POU and associated risk factors among persons with CHC in the context of social vulnerability. We identified CHC persons and propensity-score matched HCV- controls in the electronically retrieved Cohort of HCV-Infected Veterans and determined the frequency of acute, episodic long-term and chronic long-term POU and the prevalence of social vulnerability factors among persons with POU. We used logistic regression analysis to determine factors associated with POU. Among 160,856 CHC and 160,856 propensity-score matched HCV-controls, acute POU was recorded in 38.4% and 38.0% (P = 0.01) respectively. Episodic long-term POU was recorded in 3.9% in each group (P = 0.5), while chronic long-term POU was recorded in 28.4% and 19.2% (P < 0.0001). CHC was associated with a higher risk of chronic long-term POU (OR 1.66, 95%CI 1.63, 1.69), but not with acute or episodic long-term POU. Black race, female sex and homelessness were associated with a higher risk of chronic long-term POU. Presence of ≥ 1 factor was associated with a higher risk of all POU patterns. Persons with CHC have more social vulnerability factors and a higher risk of chronic long-term POU. Presence of ≥ 1 social vulnerability factor is associated with a higher risk of POU. Downstream consequences of POU need further study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85283-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7961056PMC
March 2021

SARS-CoV-2 infection in mortuary and cemetery workers.

Int J Infect Dis 2021 Apr 9;105:621-625. Epub 2021 Mar 9.

Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar; Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Doha, Qatar. Electronic address:

Background: Mortuary and cemetery workers may be exposed to the bodies of people with SARS-CoV-2 infection; however, prevalence of infection among these groups is unknown.

Methods: Nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) for RT-PCR and serologic testing for SARS-CoV-2 were performed on mortuary and cemetery workers in Qatar. Data on specific job duties, living conditions, contact history, and clinical course were gathered. Environmental sampling was carried out to explore any association with infection. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the factors associated with infection.

Results: Forty-seven mortuary workers provided an NPS and seven (14.9%) were PCR positive; 32 provided a blood sample and eight (25%) were antibody positive, six (75%) who were seropositive were also PCR positive. Among the 81 cemetery workers, 76 provided an NPS and five (6.6%) were PCR positive; 64 provided a blood sample and 22 (34.4%) were antibody positive, three (13.6%) who were seropositive were also PCR positive. Three (22.2%) and 20 (83.3%) of the infected mortuary and cemetery workers were asymptomatic, respectively. Age <30 years (OR 4.9, 95% CI 1.7-14.6), community exposure with a known case (OR 4.7, 95% CI 1.7-13.3), and presence of symptoms in the preceding 2 weeks (OR 9.0, 95% CI 1.9-42.0) were independently associated with an increased risk of infection (PCR or antibody positive). Of the 46 environmental and surface samples, all were negative or had a Ct value of >35.

Conclusion: A substantial proportion of mortuary and cemetery workers had evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was incidentally detected upon serologic testing. These data are most consistent with community acquisition rather than occupational acquisition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2021.03.012DOI Listing
April 2021
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