Epidemiological, virological and serological investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (Alpha variant) in a primary school: A prospective longitudinal study

Lorthe E, Bellon M, Michielin G, Berthelot J, Zaballa ME, Pennacchio F, Bekliz M, Laubscher F, Arefi F, Perez-Saez J, Azman AS, L'Huillier AG, Posfay-Barbe KM, Kaiser L, Guessous I, Maerkl SJ, Eckerle I, Stringhini S,


To report a prospective epidemiological, virological and serological investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in a primary school.


As part of a longitudinal, prospective, school-based surveillance study, this investigation involved repeated testing of 73 pupils, 9 teachers, 13 non-teaching staff and 26 household members of participants who tested positive, with rapid antigen tests and/or RT-PCR (Day 0-2 and Day 5-7), serologies on dried capillary blood samples (Day 0-2 and Day 30), contact tracing interviews and SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequencing.


We identified 20 children (aged 4 to 6 years from 4 school classes), 2 teachers and a total of 4 household members who were infected by the Alpha variant during this outbreak. Infection attack rates were between 11.8 and 62.0% among pupils from the 4 school classes, 22.2% among teachers and 0% among non-teaching staff. Secondary attack rate among household members was 15.4%. Symptoms were reported by 63% of infected children, 100% of teachers and 50% of household members. All analysed sequences but one showed 100% identity. Serological tests detected 8 seroconversions unidentified by SARS-CoV-2 virological tests.


This study confirmed child-to-child and child-to-adult SARS-CoV-2 transmission and introduction into households. Effective measures to limit transmission in schools have the potential to reduce the overall community circulation.