• Comparison of Racial, Ethnic, and Geographic Location Diversity of Participants Enrolled in Clinic-Based vs 2 Remote COVID-19 Clinical Trials.

      Stewart, Jenell; Krows, Meighan L; Schaafsma, Torin T; Heller, Kate B; Brown, Elizabeth R; Boonyaratanakornit, Jim; Brown, Clare E; Leingang, Hannah; Liou, Caroline; Bershteyn, Anna; et al. (American Medical Association, 2022-02-01)
      Importance: Racial and ethnic diversity among study participants is associated with improved generalizability of clinical trial results and may address inequities in evidence that informs public health strategies. Novel strategies are needed for equitable access and recruitment of diverse clinical trial populations. Objective: To investigate demographic and geographical location data for participants in 2 remote COVID-19 clinical trials with online recruitment and compare with those of a contemporaneous clinic-based COVID-19 study. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study was conducted using data from 3 completed, prospective randomized clinical trials conducted at the same time: 2 remotely conducted studies (the Early Treatment Study and Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 Postexposure Prophylaxis [PEP] Study) and 1 clinic-based study of convalescent plasma (the Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma for the Treatment of Patients With COVID-19 study). Data were collected from March to August 2020 with 1 to 28 days of participant follow-up. All studies had clinical sites in Seattle, Washington; the 2 remote trials also had collaborating sites in New York, New York; Syracuse, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Los Angeles, California. Two remote trials with inclusive social media strategies enrolled 929 participants with recent SARS-CoV-2 exposure (Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 PEP Trial) and 231 participants with COVID-19 infection (Early Treatment Study); the clinic-based Expanded Access to Convalescent Plasma for the Treatment of Patients With COVID-19 study enrolled 250 participants with recent COVID-19 infection. Data were analyzed from April to August 2021. Interventions: Remote trials used inclusive social media strategies and clinician referral for recruitment and telehealth, courier deliveries, and self-collected nasal swabs for remotely conducted study visits. For the clinic-based study, participants were recruited via clinician referral and attended in-person visits. Main Outcomes and Measures: Google Analytics data were used to measure online participant engagement and recruitment. Participant demographics and geographical location data from remote trials were pooled and compared with those of the clinic-based study. Statistical comparison of demographic data was limited to participants with COVID infections (ie, those in the remotely conducted Early Treatment Study vs those in the clinic-based study) to improve accuracy of comparison given that the Hydroxychloroquine COVID-19 PEP Trial enrolled participants with COVID-19 exposures and thus had different enrollment criteria. Results: A total of 1410 participants were included. Among 1160 participants in remote trials and 250 participants in the clinic-based trial, the mean (range) age of participants was 39 (18-80) years vs 50 (19-79) years and 676 individuals (58.3%) vs 131 individuals (52.4%) reported female sex. The Early Treatment Study with inclusive social media strategies enrolled 231 participants in 41 US states with increased rates of racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity compared with participants in the clinic-based study. Among 228 participants in the remotely conducted Early Treatment Study with race data vs participants in the clinic-based study, 39 individuals (17.1%) vs 1 individual (0.4%) identified as Alaska Native or American Indian, 11 individuals (4.8%) vs 22 individuals (8.8%) identified as Asian, 26 individuals (11.4%) vs 4 individuals (1.6%) identified as Black, 3 individuals (1.3%) vs 1 individual identified as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 117 individuals (51.3%) vs 214 individuals (85.6%) identified as White, and 32 individuals (14.0%) vs 8 individuals (3.2%) identified as other race (P < .001). Among 230 individuals in the Early Treatment Study vs 236 individuals in the clinic-based trial with ethnicity data, 71 individuals (30.9%) vs 11 individuals (4.7%) identified as Hispanic or Latinx (P<.001). There were 29 individuals in the Early Treatment Study with nonurban residences (ie, rural, small town, or peri-urban; 12.6%) vs 6 of 248 individuals in the clinic-based trial with residence data (2.4%) (P < .001). In remote trial online recruitment, the highest engagement was with advertisements on social media platforms; among 125 147 unique users with age demographics who clicked on online recruitment advertisements, 84 188 individuals (67.3%) engaged via Facebook. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that remote clinical trials with online advertising may be considered as a strategy to improve diversity among clinical trial participants.
    • Detection and kinetics of subgenomic SARS-CoV-2 RNA viral load in longitudinal diagnostic RNA positive samples.

      Deming, Meagan E; Dong, Tracy Q; Agrawal, Vaidehi; Mills, Margaret G; Huang, Meei-Li W; Greninger, Alexander L; Jerome, Keith R; Wener, Mark H; Paasche-Orlow, Michael K; Kissinger, Patricia; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2022-02-12)
      While detection of SARS-CoV-2 by diagnostic RT-PCR is highly sensitive for viral RNA, the nucleic acid amplification of subgenomic RNAs (sgRNA) that are the product of viral replication may more accurately identify replication. We characterized the diagnostic RT-PCR and sgRNA detection from nasal swabs collected daily by participants in post exposure prophylaxis or treatment studies for SARS-CoV-2. Among 1932 RT-PCR-positive swabs with sgRNA tests, 40% (767) had detectable sgRNA. Above a diagnostic PCR viral load threshold of 5.1 log10 copies/mL, 96% of samples had detectable sgRNA with viral loads that followed a linear trend. The trajectories of diagnostic and sgRNA viral loads differed, with 80% peaking on the same day but duration of sgRNA detection being shorter (8 versus 14 days). With a large sample of daily swabs we provide comparative sgRNA kinetics and a diagnostic PCR threshold that correlates with replicating virus independent of symptoms or duration of illness.
    • Self-Assessed Severity as a Determinant of COVID-19 Symptom Specificity: A Longitudinal Cohort Study.

      Bershteyn, Anna; Dahl, Angela M; Dong, Tracy Q; Deming, Meagan E; Celum, Connie L; Chu, Helen Y; Kottkamp, Angelica C; Greninger, Alexander L; Hoffman, Risa M; Jerome, Keith R; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2022-02-13)
      COVID-19 symptom definitions rarely include symptom severity. We collected daily nasal swabs and symptom diaries from contacts of SARS-CoV-2 cases. Requiring ≥1 moderate or severe symptom reduced sensitivity to predict SARS-CoV-2 shedding from 60.0% (CI: 52.9-66.7%) to 31.5% (CI: 25.7-38.0%), but increased specificity from 77.5% (CI:75.3-79.5%) to 93.8% (CI: 92.7-94.8%).
    • Trajectory of Viral RNA Load Among Persons With Incident SARS-CoV-2 G614 Infection (Wuhan Strain) in Association With COVID-19 Symptom Onset and Severity.

      Stankiewicz Karita, Helen C; Dong, Tracy Q; Johnston, Christine; Neuzil, Kathleen M; Paasche-Orlow, Michael K; Kissinger, Patricia J; Bershteyn, Anna; Thorpe, Lorna E; Deming, Meagan; Kottkamp, Angelica; et al. (American Medical Association, 2022-01-04)
      Importance: The SARS-CoV-2 viral trajectory has not been well characterized in incident infections. These data are needed to inform natural history, prevention practices, and therapeutic development. Objective: To characterize early SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA load (hereafter referred to as viral load) in individuals with incident infections in association with COVID-19 symptom onset and severity. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study was a secondary data analysis of a remotely conducted study that enrolled 829 asymptomatic community-based participants recently exposed (<96 hours) to persons with SARS-CoV-2 from 41 US states from March 31 to August 21, 2020. Two cohorts were studied: (1) participants who were SARS-CoV-2 negative at baseline and tested positive during study follow-up, and (2) participants who had 2 or more positive swabs during follow-up, regardless of the initial (baseline) swab result. Participants collected daily midturbinate swab samples for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection and maintained symptom diaries for 14 days. Exposure: Laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Main Outcomes and Measures: The observed SARS-CoV-2 viral load among incident infections was summarized, and piecewise linear mixed-effects models were used to estimate the characteristics of viral trajectories in association with COVID-19 symptom onset and severity. Results: A total of 97 participants (55 women [57%]; median age, 37 years [IQR, 27-52 years]) developed incident infections during follow-up. Forty-Two participants (43%) had viral shedding for 1 day (median peak viral load cycle threshold [Ct] value, 38.5 [95% CI, 38.3-39.0]), 18 (19%) for 2 to 6 days (median Ct value, 36.7 [95% CI, 30.2-38.1]), and 31 (32%) for 7 days or more (median Ct value, 18.3 [95% CI, 17.4-22.0]). The cycle threshold value has an inverse association with viral load. Six participants (6%) had 1 to 6 days of viral shedding with censored duration. The peak mean (SD) viral load was observed on day 3 of shedding (Ct value, 33.8 [95% CI, 31.9-35.6]). Based on the statistical models fitted to 129 participants (60 men [47%]; median age, 38 years [IQR, 25-54 years]) with 2 or more SARS-CoV-2-positive swab samples, persons reporting moderate or severe symptoms tended to have a higher peak mean viral load than those who were asymptomatic (Ct value, 23.3 [95% CI, 22.6-24.0] vs 30.7 [95% CI, 29.8-31.4]). Mild symptoms generally started within 1 day of peak viral load, and moderate or severe symptoms 2 days after peak viral load. All 535 sequenced samples detected the G614 variant (Wuhan strain). Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study suggests that having incident SARS-CoV-2 G614 infection was associated with a rapid viral load peak followed by slower decay. COVID-19 symptom onset generally coincided with peak viral load, which correlated positively with symptom severity. This longitudinal evaluation of the SARS-CoV-2 G614 with frequent molecular testing serves as a reference for comparing emergent viral lineages to inform clinical trial designs and public health strategies to contain the spread of the virus.