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An estimated 95,000–167,000 inpatients at English National Health Service (NHS) hospitals caught SARS-CoV-2 while in hospital during England’s ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, between June 2020 and March 2021, reports a study in Nature. The findings reveal the scale of hospital transmissions and highlight contributing factors, such as a limited number of single rooms.

saline water bottle at the forefront and behind a health care worker walking through a hospital's corridor © Shutterstock

Researchers from the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global HealthMahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research UnitBig Data InstitutePandemic Sciences Institute at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, London School of Hygiene & Tropical MedicineLancaster UniversityUtrecht University, and the UK Health Security Agency collaborated on this study.

Hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2 puts vulnerable people at risk, affects healthcare workers and potentially drives community transmission. However, attempts to quantify the extent of hospital transmissions and the driving factors have been lacking. Professor Ben Cooper, Professor of Epidemiology at the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health and the corresponding author on the study, and his colleagues address these knowledge gaps by assessing data from 145 English NHS acute hospital trusts, including 356 hospitals with a combined bed capacity of approximately 100,000. Data included incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, staff absences owing to SARS-CoV-2 and classification of the likely source of infection.


Read the full story on the University of Oxford's website.