Transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in a strictly-Orthodox Jewish community in the UK

Waites, William and Pearson, Carl A. B. and Gaskell, Katherine M. and House, Thomas and Pellis, Lorenzo and Johnson, Marina and Gould, Victoria and Hunt, Adam and Stone, Neil R. H. and Kasstan, Ben and Chantler, Tracey and Lal, Sham and Roberts, Chrissy H. and Goldblatt, David and Marks, Michael and Eggo, Rosalind M., CMMID COVID-19 Working Group (2022) Transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in a strictly-Orthodox Jewish community in the UK. Scientific Reports, 12. 8550. ISSN 2045-2322 (

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Some social settings such as households and workplaces, have been identified as high risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Identifying and quantifying the importance of these settings is critical for designing interventions. A tightly-knit religious community in the UK experienced a very large COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, reaching 64.3% seroprevalence within 10 months, and we surveyed this community both for serological status and individual-level attendance at particular settings. Using these data, and a network model of people and places represented as a stochastic graph rewriting system, we estimated the relative contribution of transmission in households, schools and religious institutions to the epidemic, and the relative risk of infection in each of these settings. All congregate settings were important for transmission, with some such as primary schools and places of worship having a higher share of transmission than others. We found that the model needed a higher general-community transmission rate for women (3.3-fold), and lower susceptibility to infection in children to recreate the observed serological data. The precise share of transmission in each place was related to assumptions about the internal structure of those places. Identification of key settings of transmission can allow public health interventions to be targeted at these locations.


Waites, William ORCID logoORCID:, Pearson, Carl A. B., Gaskell, Katherine M., House, Thomas, Pellis, Lorenzo, Johnson, Marina, Gould, Victoria, Hunt, Adam, Stone, Neil R. H., Kasstan, Ben, Chantler, Tracey, Lal, Sham, Roberts, Chrissy H., Goldblatt, David, Marks, Michael and Eggo, Rosalind M.;