Whole-genome sequencing to investigate transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the acute healthcare setting: a systematic review
Background: Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) has been used widely to elucidate transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in acute healthcare settings, and to guide infection, prevention,and control (IPC) responses.
Aim: To systematically appraise available literature, published between January 1st, 2020 and June 30th, 2022, describing the implementation of WGS in acute healthcare settings to characterize nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Methods: Searches of the PubMed, Embase, Ovid MEDLINE, EBSCO MEDLINE, and Cochrane Library databases identified studies in English reporting the use of WGS to investigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission in acute healthcare environments. Publications involved data collected up to December 31st, 2021, and findings were reported in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement.
In all, 3088 non-duplicate records were retrieved; 97 met inclusion criteria, involving 62 outbreak analyses and 35 genomic surveillance studies. No publications from low-income countries were identified. In 87/97 (90%), WGS supported hypotheses for nosocomial transmission, while in 46 out of 97 (47%) suspected transmission events were excluded. An IPC intervention was attributed to the use of WGS in 18 out of 97 (18%); however, only three (3%) studies reported turnaround times ≤7 days facilitating near real-time IPC action, and none reported an impact on the incidence of nosocomial COVID-19 attributable to WGS.
WGS can elucidate transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in acute healthcare settings to enhance epidemiological investigations. However, evidence was not identified to support sequencing as an intervention to reduce the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in hospital or to alter the trajectory of active outbreaks.
PublicationJournal of Hospital Infection, 2023, 140, pp. 139-155
Also affiliated with
- 4i - Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation & Immunity
Sustainable development goals
- (3) Good Health and Well-being
Department or School
- School of Medicine