Impacts of social distancing, rapid antigen test and vaccination on the Omicron outbreak during large temperature variations in Hong Kong : A modelling study

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3 Scopus Citations
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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1435
Journal / PublicationJournal of Infection and Public Health
Volume15
Issue number12
Online published4 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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Abstract

Background: The impacts of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and vaccine boosters on the transmission of the largest outbreak of COVID-19 (the fifth wave) in Hong Kong have not been reported. The outbreak, dominated by the Omicron BA.2 subvariant, began to spread substantially after the Spring Festival in February, 2022, when the temperature varied greatly (e.g. a cold surge event). Tightening social distancing measures did not succeed in containing the outbreak until later with the use of rapid antigen tests (RAT) and increased vaccination rates. Temperature has been previously found to have significant impact on the transmissibility. Understanding how the public health interventions influence the number of infections in this outbreak provide important insights on prevention and control of COVID-19 during different seasons. Methods: We developed a transmission model incorporating stratified immunity with vaccine-induced antibody responses and the daily changes in population mobility, vaccination and weather factors (i.e. temperature and relative humidity). We fitted the model to the daily reported cases detected by either PCR or RAT between 1 February and 31 March using Bayesian statistics, and quantified the effects of individual NPIs, vaccination and weather factors on transmission dynamics. Results: Model predicted that, with the vaccine uptake, social distancing reduced the cumulative incidence (CI) from 58.2% to 44.5% on average. The use of RAT further reduced the CI to 39.0%. Without vaccine boosters in these two months, the CI increased to 49.1%. While public health interventions are important in reducing the total infections, the outbreak was temporarily driven by the cold surge. If the coldest two days (8.5 °C and 8.8 °C) in February were replaced by the average temperature in that month (15.2 °C), the CI would reduce from 39.0% to 28.2%. Conclusion: Preventing and preparing for the transmission of COVID-19 considering the change in temperature appears to be a cost-effective preventive strategy to lead people to return to normal life.

Research Area(s)

  • COVID-19, Model forecast, Rapid antigen test, Serology, Temperature

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