Background: University workers undergo intense social interactions due to the frequent contact with students and colleagues and lectures in crowdy conditions. The aim of our study was to assess the incidence of COVID-19 infection and vaccine effectiveness in a cohort of workers of the University of Trieste from 1 March 2020 (start of the pandemic) through 2 April 2022. Methods: The University of Trieste implemented a number of public health policies to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 on the campus, including prompt contact tracing, the enhanced ventilation of all premises, fomites disinfection and the mandatory use of face masks indoors. In compliance with the surveillance protocol of the local public health department, university personnel were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on a nasopharyngeal swab on demand, in the event of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or for contact tracing, following close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. The incidence rates of SARS-CoV-2 infections were estimated as the number of cases by the number of person-days (p-d) at risk. The multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression model was employed to investigate the risk of primary COVID-19 infection, adjusting for a number of potential confounders and expressing the risk as the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) with a 95% confidence interval (95% CI). Results: The incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection among the university staff was lower than that of healthcare workers (HCWs) of the same area. Compared to unvaccinated colleagues (6.55 × 10,000 p-d), the raw incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher among university workers immunized with one (7.22 × 10,000 p-d) or two (7.48 × 10,000 p-d) doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, decreasing in those receiving the booster (1.98 × 1000 p-d). The risk of infection increased only in postgraduate medical trainees (aHR = 2.16; 95% CI: 1.04; 4.48), though this was limited to the Omicron transmission period. After the implementation of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, workers immunized with the booster were less likely than unvaccinated workers to be infected by SARS-CoV-2 both before (aHR = 0.10; 95% CI: 0.06; 0.16) and after (aHR = 0.37; 95% CI: 0.27; 0.52) the Omicron transmission period. The vaccine effectiveness of the booster was 90% (=(1−0.10) × 100) before versus 63% (=(1−0.37) × 100) during the Omicron wave, without a significant difference between homologous (three doses of m-RNA vaccines) and heterologous (first two doses of Vaxzevria followed by a third dose of m-RNA vaccine) immunization. Conclusions: The incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the university staff was lower than that of HCWs of ASUGI, likely because the testing-on-demand schedule inevitably missed asymptomatic infections. Therefore, the observed significantly protective effect of the booster dose in university personnel referred to symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. The infection prevention and control policies implemented by the University of Trieste managed to equalize the biological risk between the administrative and teaching staff.

COVID-19 Incidence and Vaccine Effectiveness in University Staff, 1 March 2020–2 April 2022

Luca Cegolon
Formal Analysis
;
Corrado Negro
Data Curation
;
Marco Pesce
Data Curation
;
Francesca Larese FIlon
Formal Analysis
2023-01-01

Abstract

Background: University workers undergo intense social interactions due to the frequent contact with students and colleagues and lectures in crowdy conditions. The aim of our study was to assess the incidence of COVID-19 infection and vaccine effectiveness in a cohort of workers of the University of Trieste from 1 March 2020 (start of the pandemic) through 2 April 2022. Methods: The University of Trieste implemented a number of public health policies to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 on the campus, including prompt contact tracing, the enhanced ventilation of all premises, fomites disinfection and the mandatory use of face masks indoors. In compliance with the surveillance protocol of the local public health department, university personnel were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on a nasopharyngeal swab on demand, in the event of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or for contact tracing, following close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. The incidence rates of SARS-CoV-2 infections were estimated as the number of cases by the number of person-days (p-d) at risk. The multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression model was employed to investigate the risk of primary COVID-19 infection, adjusting for a number of potential confounders and expressing the risk as the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) with a 95% confidence interval (95% CI). Results: The incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection among the university staff was lower than that of healthcare workers (HCWs) of the same area. Compared to unvaccinated colleagues (6.55 × 10,000 p-d), the raw incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher among university workers immunized with one (7.22 × 10,000 p-d) or two (7.48 × 10,000 p-d) doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, decreasing in those receiving the booster (1.98 × 1000 p-d). The risk of infection increased only in postgraduate medical trainees (aHR = 2.16; 95% CI: 1.04; 4.48), though this was limited to the Omicron transmission period. After the implementation of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, workers immunized with the booster were less likely than unvaccinated workers to be infected by SARS-CoV-2 both before (aHR = 0.10; 95% CI: 0.06; 0.16) and after (aHR = 0.37; 95% CI: 0.27; 0.52) the Omicron transmission period. The vaccine effectiveness of the booster was 90% (=(1−0.10) × 100) before versus 63% (=(1−0.37) × 100) during the Omicron wave, without a significant difference between homologous (three doses of m-RNA vaccines) and heterologous (first two doses of Vaxzevria followed by a third dose of m-RNA vaccine) immunization. Conclusions: The incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the university staff was lower than that of HCWs of ASUGI, likely because the testing-on-demand schedule inevitably missed asymptomatic infections. Therefore, the observed significantly protective effect of the booster dose in university personnel referred to symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. The infection prevention and control policies implemented by the University of Trieste managed to equalize the biological risk between the administrative and teaching staff.
2023
Pubblicato
https://www.mdpi.com/2076-393X/11/2/483
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3040778
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