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Associations of Vaccination and of Prior Infection With Positive PCR Test Results for SARS-CoV-2 in Airline Passengers Arriving in Qatar

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has severely affected international travel. With efficacious COVID-19 vaccines available, Qatar implemented a pilot program between February 18 and April 26, 2021, to ease travel restrictions by waiving the quarantine requirement for vaccinated residents who received their second vaccine dose at least 14 days before arrival. The program still required a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to be performed on each passenger on arrival at Hamad International Airport, Qatar’s international travel gate. We investigated the incidence of PCR-positive test results in arriving passengers.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Laith J. Abu-Raddad, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine–Qatar, Qatar Foundation–Education City, PO Box 24144, Doha, Qatar (lja2002@qatar-med.cornell.edu).

Accepted for Publication: June 1, 2021.

Published Online: June 9, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.9970

Author Contributions: Ms Chemaitelly and Dr Abu-Raddad had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Bertollini, Al Thani, Al Khal, Abu-Raddad.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Chemaitelly, Abu-Raddad.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Chemaitelly.

Obtained funding: Al Thani, Abu-Raddad.

Administrative, technical, or material support: All authors.

Supervision: Bertollini, Al Thani, Al Khal, Abu-Raddad.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Disclaimer: Statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Additional Contributions: We acknowledge the data, viral genome sequencing, and logistical efforts of the National Study Group for COVID-19 Epidemiology including Fatiha M. Benslimane, PhD, Hebah A. Al Khatib, PhD, Hanan F. Abdul Rahim, PhD, Gheyath K. Nasrallah, PhD, Houssein H. Ayoub, PhD (all with Qatar University); Peter Coyle, MD, Adeel A. Butt, MD, MS, Andrew Jeremijenko, MD, Zaina Al Kanaani, PhD, Einas Al Kuwari, MD, Anvar H. Kaleeckal, MSc, Ali Nizar Latif, MD, Riyazuddin M. Shaik, MSc (all with Hamad Medical Corporation); Patrick Tang, MD, PhD (Sidra Medicine); Mohamed Ghaith Al Kuwari, MD (Primary Health Care Corporation); and Hamad Eid Al Romaihi, MD (Ministry of Public Health, Doha, Qatar). None of these individuals were compensated for their role in the study. We also acknowledge the uncompensated administrative support of Adona Canlas, BSc (Weill Cornell Medicine–Qatar, Cornell University); and Steven Aird, PhD (unaffiliated) for compensated English editing of a draft of the manuscript. We also acknowledge the many dedicated individuals at Hamad Medical Corporation, the Ministry of Public Health, the Primary Health Care Corporation, and the Qatar Biobank for their diligent efforts and contributions to make this study possible. We are grateful for support from the Biomedical Research Program and the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Biomathematics Research Core, both at Weill Cornell Medicine–Qatar. We are also grateful for the Qatar Genome Programme for supporting the viral genome sequencing.

References
1.
Thermo Fisher Scientific. TaqPath COVID-19 CE-IVD RT-PCR kit instructions for use. Accessed December 2, 2020. https://assets.thermofisher.com/TFS-Assets/LSG/manuals/MAN0019215_TaqPathCOVID-19_CE-IVD_RT-PCR%20Kit_IFU.pdf
2.
Abu-Raddad  LJ , Chemaitelly  H , Ayoub  HH ,  et al.  Characterizing the Qatar advanced-phase SARS-CoV-2 epidemic.   Sci Rep. 2021;11(1):6233. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-85428-7PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Abu-Raddad  LJ , Chemaitelly  H , Butt  AA ; National Study Group for COVID-19 Vaccination.  Effectiveness of the BNT162b2 Covid-19 vaccine against the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants.   N Engl J Med. Published online May 5, 2021. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2104974PubMedGoogle Scholar
4.
National Project of Surveillance for Variants of Concern and Viral Genome Sequencing. Qatar viral genome sequencing data. Accessed May 6, 2021. https://www.gisaid.org/phylodynamics/global/nextstrain/
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