Although much of the public health effort to combat COVID-19 has focused on disease control strategies in public settings, transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within households remains an important problem. The nature and determinants of household transmission are poorly understood.
These findings suggest that SAR reported using a single follow-up test may be underestimated and that testing household contacts of COVID-19 cases on multiple occasions may increase the yield for identifying secondary cases.
To address this gap, we gathered and analyzed data from 22 published and pre-published studies from 10 countries (20,291 household contacts) that were available through September 2, 2020. Our goal was to combine estimates of the SARS-CoV-2 household secondary attack rate (SAR) and explore variation in estimates of the household SAR.
The overall pooled random-effects estimate of the household SAR was 17.1% (95% CI: 13.7-21.2%). In study-level, random-effects meta-regressions stratified by testing frequency (1 test, 2 tests, >2 tests), SAR estimates were 9.2% (95% CI: 6.7-12.3%), 17.5% (95% CI: 13.9-21.8%), and 21.3% (95% CI: 13.8-31.3%), respectively. Household SAR tended to be higher among older adult contacts and among contacts of symptomatic cases.