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

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • S. Riley
  • K.E.C. Ainslie
  • O. Eales
  • C.E. Walters
  • H. Wang
  • C. Atchison
  • C. Fronterre
  • P.J. Diggle
  • D. Ashby
  • C.A. Donnelly
  • G. Cooke
  • W. Barclay
  • H. Ward
  • A. Darzi
  • P. Elliott
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/05/2021
Issue number6545
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)990-995
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Surveillance of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic 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 based on self-administered swab results from ~594,000 individuals tested for SARS-CoV-2, regardless of symptoms, between May and the 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 with 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.