2021-06-07Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.25646/8756
Trends in respiratory virus circulation following COVID-19-targeted nonpharmaceutical interventions in Germany, January - September 2020: Analysis of national surveillance data
von Kleist, Max
Background:During the initial COVID-19 response, Germany’s Federal Government implemented several nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that were instrumental in suppressing early exponential spread ofSARS-CoV-2. NPI effect on the transmission of other respiratory viruses has not been examined at the national level thus far.Methods:Upper respiratory tract specimens from 3580 patients with acute respiratory infection (ARI), collected within the nationwide German ARI Sentinel, underwent RT-PCR diagnostics for multiple respiratory viruses. The observation period (weeks 1-38 of 2020) included the time before, during and after a farreaching contact ban. Detection rates for different viruses were compared to 2017-2019 sentinel data (15350 samples; week 1-38, 11823 samples). Findings :The March 2020 contact ban, which was followed by a mask mandate, was associated with an unprecedented and sustained decline of multiple respiratory viruses. Among these, rhinovirus was the single agent that resurged to levels equalling those of previous years. Rhinovirus rebound was first observed in children, after schools and daycares had reopened. By contrast, other non enveloped viruses (i.e. gastroenteritisviruses reported at the national level) suppressed after the shutdown did not rebound.Interpretation:Contact restrictions with a subsequent mask mandate in spring may substantially reduce respiratory virus circulation. This reduction appears sustained for most viruses, indicating that the activity of influenza and other respiratory viruses during the subsequent winter season might be low,whereas rhinovirus resurgence, potentially driven by transmission in educational institutions in a setting of waning population immunity, might signal predominance of rhinovirus-related ARIs.
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