The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in December 2019 in China and its worldwide dissemination has become a major public health priority. Most countries have now reported confirmed cases on their territories and the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020 by WHO. In France, the first cases were reported in January 2020. Since then, the virus has spread in the community, leading to the implementation of unprecedented measures at the population level, including school closure and population confinement.

In this context, healthcare institutions are confronted to major challenges. First, the community spread is leading to a large demand of available beds and to a saturation in hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 patients, especially in intensive care units. Second, the outbreak and its management are causing a large-scale disorganization of the entire healthcare system. Third, healthcare settings have been shown to be hotspots of transmission, with causing nosocomial outbreaks involving superspreading events reported in hospitals. In addition to the risk of contamination of patients, whose underlying conditions may make them at higher risk of severe infection, there is an important risk of contamination of healthcare workers.

Studying the spread of SARS-CoV-2 within healthcare institutions and over healthcare institution networks falls clearly within the scope of the SPHINx project, and the project partners are mobilized in this regard. Some examples of ongoing work:

Partner 3 (EHESP)
Pascal Crépey’s team has developed an age-structured model of SARS-CoV-2 spread in France that allows to assess the epidemic’s impact on healthcare resources for each French metropolitan Region. In particular, they assessed and forecasted needs in terms of ICU beds.

More details available from:
Partners 1 (Cnam) and 2 (UVSQ)
Laura Temime’s and Lulla Opatowski’s teams develop models of SARS-CoV-2 spread within healthcare institutions to assess the risk for patients and staff, as well as to assess control strategies.
For instance, in a context of limited number of tests available, they have studied the efficacy and timeliness of a range of COVID-19 surveillance strategies in a long-term care facility. They have also done some theoretical work to highlight differences in the spreading potential of SARS-CoV-2 depending on contact patterns within healthcare institutions.

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