Trends in risk factors and symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 and Rhinovirus test positivity in King County, Washington: A Test-Negative Design Study of the Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network

Hansen CL, Perofsky A, Burstein R, Famulare M, Boyle S, Prentice R, Marshall C, McCormick BJ-J, Reinhart D, Capodanno B, Truong M, Schwabe-Fry K, Kuchta K, Pfau B, Acker Z, Lee J, Sibley TR, McDermot E, Rodriguez-Salas L, Stone J, Gamboa L, Han PD, Duchin JS, Waghmare A, Englund JA, Shendure J, Bedford T, Chu HY, Starita LM, Viboud C. 2022. medRxiv: 2022.08.12.22278203.


Importance: Few US studies have reexamined risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 positivity in the context of widespread vaccination and new variants or considered risk factors for co-circulating endemic viruses, such as rhinovirus. Objective: To understand how risk factors and symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 test positivity changed over the course of the pandemic and to compare these to the factors associated with rhinovirus test positivity.

Design: This test-negative design study used multivariable logistic regression to assess associations between SARS- CoV-2 and rhinovirus test positivity and self-reported demographic and symptom variables over a 22-month period.

Setting: King County, Washington, June 2020-April 2022

Participants: 23,278 symptomatic individuals of all ages enrolled in a cross-sectional community surveillance study. Exposures: Self-reported data for 15 demographic and health behavior variables and 16 symptoms.

Main Outcome(s) and Measure(s): RT-PCR confirmed SARS-CoV-2 or rhinovirus infection.

Results: Close contact with a SARS-CoV-2 case (adjusted odds ratio, aOR 4.3, 95% CI 3.7-5.0) and loss of smell/taste (aOR 3.7, 95% CI 3.0-4.5) were the variables most associated with SARS-CoV-2 test positivity, but both attenuated during the Omicron period. Contact with a vaccinated case (aOR 2.4, 95% CI 1.7-3.3) was associated with a lower odds of test positivity than contact with an unvaccinated case (aOR 4.4, 95% CI 2.7-7.3). Sore throat was associated with Omicron infection (aOR 2.3, 95% CI 1.6-3.2) but not Delta. Vaccine effectiveness for participants fully vaccinated with a booster dose was 43% (95% CI 11-63%) for Omicron and 92% (95% CI 61-100%) for Delta. Variables associated with rhinovirus test positivity included age <12 years (aOR 4.0, 95% CI 3.5-4.6) and reporting a runny or stuffy nose (aOR 4.6, 95% CI 4.1-5.2). Race, region, and household crowding were significantly associated with both SARS-CoV-2 and rhinovirus test positivity.

Conclusions and Relevance: Estimated risk factors and symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection have changed over time. There was a shift in reported symptoms between the Delta and Omicron variants as well as reductions in the protection provided by vaccines. Racial and socioeconomic disparities persisted in the third year of SARS-CoV-2 circulation and were also present in rhinovirus infection, although the causal pathways remain unclear. Trends in testing behavior and availability may influence these results.