Comparison Of New and emerging SARS-CoV-2 variant Transmissibility through Active Contact Testing. A comparative cross-sectional household seroprevalence study.


Historically SARS-CoV-2 secondary attack rates (SAR) have been based on PCR positivity on screening symptomatic contacts, this misses transmission events and identifies only symptomatic contacts who are PCR positive at the time of sampling. We used serology to detect the relative transmissibility of Alpha Variant of Concern (VOC) to non-VOC SARS-CoV-2 to calculate household secondary attack rates. We identified index patients diagnosed with Alpha and non-VOC SARS-CoV-2 across two London Hospitals between November 2020 and January 2021 during a prolonged and well adhered national lockdown. We completed a household seroprevalence survey and found that 61.8% of non-VOC exposed household contacts were seropositive compared to 82.1% of Alpha exposed household contacts. The odds of infection doubled with exposure to an index diagnosed with Alpha. There was evidence of transmission events in almost all households. Our data strongly support that estimates of SAR should include serological data to improve accuracy and understanding.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Funding Statement

This research was funded by the LSHTM COVID-19 response fund Grant number DONAT15914 and performed independently to any intervention by this funder.

Author Declarations

I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.


The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:

The ethics committees of LSHTM (LEO ref:25265), the NHS Health Research authority (IRAS ref:295376), and local hospital review committees gave full ethical approval for this work.

I confirm that all necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived, and that any patient/participant/sample identifiers included were not known to anyone (e.g., hospital staff, patients or participants themselves) outside the research group so cannot be used to identify individuals.


I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).


I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.


Data Availability

All anonymised data produced in the present study are available upon reasonable request to the authors

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