Differential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on laboratory reporting of norovirus and Campylobacter in England: A modelling approach

Nikola Ondrikova*, Helen E. Clough, Amy Douglas, Miren Iturriza-Gomara, Lesley Larkin, Roberto Vivancos, John P. Harris, Nigel A. Cunliffe

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted surveillance activities for multiple pathogens. Since March 2020, there was a decline in the number of reports of norovirus and Campylobacter recorded by England’s national laboratory surveillance system. The aim is to estimate and compare the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on norovirus and Campylobacter surveillance data in England. 

Methods We utilised two quasi-experimental approaches based on a generalised linear model for sequential count data. The first approach estimates overall impact and the second approach focuses on the impact of specific elements of the pandemic response (COVID-19 diagnostic testing and control measures). The following time series (27, 2015–43, 2020) were used: weekly laboratory-confirmed norovirus and Campylobacter reports, air temperature, conducted Sars-CoV-2 tests and Index of COVID-19 control measures stringency. 

Results The period of Sars-CoV-2 emergence and subsequent sustained transmission was associated with persistent reductions in norovirus laboratory reports (p = 0.001), whereas the reductions were more pronounced during pandemic emergence and later recovered for Campylobacter (p = 0.075). The total estimated reduction was 47% - 79% for norovirus (12–43, 2020). The total reduction varied by time for Campylobacter, e.g. 19% - 33% in April, 1% - 7% in August. 

Conclusion Laboratory reporting of norovirus was more adversely impacted than Campylobacter by the COVID-19 pandemic. This may be partially explained by a comparatively stronger effect of behavioural interventions on norovirus transmission and a relatively greater reduction in norovirus testing capacity. Our study underlines the differential impact a pandemic may have on surveillance of gastrointestinal infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0256638
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number8 August
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: NO is funded by EPSRC and ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantification and Management of Risk & Uncertainty in Complex Systems & Environments - Grant No. (EP/ L015927/1).Funding website: https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/ L015927/1 The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Open Access:This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Ondrikova et al.

Citation: Ondrikova N, Clough HE, Douglas A, Iturriza-Gomara M, Larkin L, Vivancos R, et al. (2021) Differential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on laboratory reporting of norovirus and Campylobacter in England: A modelling approach. PLoS ONE 16(8): e0256638.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256638

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