Evaluating the cost implications of integrating SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing for infection prevention and control investigation of nosocomial transmission within hospitals

Monica Panca*, James Blackstone, Oliver Stirrup, Maria Teresa Cutino-Moguel, Emma C. Thomson, Christine Peters, Luke B. Snell, Gaia Nebbia, Alison Holmes, Anu Chawla, Nicholas Machin, Yusri Taha, Tabitha W. Mahungu, Tranprit Saluja, Thushan I. de Silva, Kordo Saeed, Cassie F. Pope, Gee Yen Shin, Rachel Williams, Alistair DarbyDarren L. Smith, Matthew W. Loose, Samuel C. Robson, Kenneth Laing, David G. Partridge, James R. Price, Judith Breuer

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: The COG-UK hospital-onset COVID-19 infection (HOCI) trial evaluated the impact of SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequencing (WGS) on acute infection, prevention, and control (IPC) investigation of nosocomial transmission within hospitals. Aim: To estimate the cost implications of using the information from the sequencing reporting tool (SRT), used to determine likelihood of nosocomial infection in IPC practice. Methods: A micro-costing approach for SARS-CoV-2 WGS was conducted. Data on IPC management resource use and costs were collected from interviews with IPC teams from 14 participating sites and used to assign cost estimates for IPC activities as collected in the trial. Activities included IPC-specific actions following a suspicion of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) or outbreak, as well as changes to practice following the return of data via SRT. Findings: The mean per-sample costs of SARS-CoV-2 sequencing were estimated at £77.10 for rapid and £66.94 for longer turnaround phases. Over the three-month interventional phases, the total management costs of IPC-defined HAIs and outbreak events across the sites were estimated at £225,070 and £416,447, respectively. The main cost drivers were bed-days lost due to ward closures because of outbreaks, followed by outbreak meetings and bed-days lost due to cohorting contacts. Actioning SRTs, the cost of HAIs increased by £5,178 due to unidentified cases and the cost of outbreaks decreased by £11,246 as SRTs excluded hospital outbreaks. Conclusion: Although SARS-CoV-2 WGS adds to the total IPC management cost, additional information provided could balance out the additional cost, depending on identified design improvements and effective deployment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Early online date10 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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