Evolving SARS-CoV-2 severity among hospital and university affiliates in Spain and Greater Boston

Fares Amer, Fan Yun Lan, Mario Gil-Conesa, Amalia Sidossis, Daniel Bruque, Eirini Iliaki, Jane Buley, Neetha Nathan, Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha, Silvia Carlos, Stefanos N. Kales, Alejandro Fernandez-Montero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus greatly affected healthcare workers and healthcare systems. It also challenged schools and universities worldwide negatively affecting in-person education. We conducted this study is to assess the evolution of SARs-CoV-2 virulence over the course of the pandemic. Methods: A combined cohort of University students in Spain and HCWs from the two hospitals in Spain, and one healthcare system in the Greater Boston area was followed prospectively from March 8th, 2020, to January 31st, 2022 for diagnosis with COVID-19 by PCR testing and related sequelae. Follow-up time was divided into four periods according to distinct waves of infection during the pandemic. Severity of COVID-19 was measured by case-hospitalization rate. Descriptive statistics and multivariable-adjusted statistics using the Poisson mixed-effects regression model were applied. As a sensitivity analysis, information on SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater and COVID-19 deaths through May 30, 2023 from the Boston area was collected. Results: For the last two periods of the study (January 1st to December 15th, 2021 and December 16th, 2021 to January 31st, 2022) and relative to the first period (March 8th to May 31st, 2020), the incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of hospitalization were 0.08 (95% CI, 0.03–0.17) and 0.03 (95% CI, 0.01–0.15), respectively. In addition, a relative risk 0.012 CI95% (0.012–0.012) was observed when comparing COVID-19 mortality versus SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies/mL in Boston-area wastewater over the period (16th December 2021 to 30th May 2023) and relative to the first period. Conclusions: The severity of COVID-19 and immunity of our populations evolved over time, resulting in a decrease in case severity. We found the case-hospitalization rate decreased more than 90% in our cohort despite an increase in incidence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiologia Clinica
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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