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1.
Viruses ; 14(8):1714, 2022.
Article in English | MDPI | ID: covidwho-1969516

ABSTRACT

Formulating termination of isolation (de-isolation) policies requires up-to-date knowledge about viral shedding dynamics. However, current de-isolation policies are largely based on viral load data obtained before the emergence of Omicron variant. In this retrospective cohort study involving adult patients hospitalised for COVID-19 between January and February 2022, we sought to determine SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding kinetics and to investigate the risk factors associated with slow viral decline during the 2022 Omicron wave. A total of 104 patients were included. The viral load was highest (Ct value was lowest) on days 1 post-symptom-onset (PSO) and gradually declined. Older age, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and chronic kidney disease were associated with slow viral decline in the univariate analysis on both day 7 and day 10 PSO, while incomplete or no vaccination was associated with slow viral decline on day 7 PSO only. However, older age was the only risk factor that remained statistically significant in the multivariate analysis. In conclusion, older age is an independent risk factor associated with slow viral decline in this study conducted during the Omicron-dominant 2022 COVID-19 wave. Transmission-based precaution guidelines should take age into consideration when determining the timing of de-isolation.

2.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3618, 2022 06 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908176

ABSTRACT

Monitoring population protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for risk assessment. We hypothesize that Hong Kong's explosive Omicron BA.2 outbreak in early 2022 could be explained by low herd immunity. Our seroprevalence study using sera collected from January to December 2021 shows a very low prevalence of neutralizing antibodies (NAb) against ancestral virus among older adults. The age group-specific prevalence of NAb generally correlates with the vaccination uptake rate, but older adults have a much lower NAb seropositive rate than vaccination uptake rate. For all age groups, the seroprevalence of NAb against Omicron variant is much lower than that against the ancestral virus. Our study suggests that this BA.2 outbreak and the exceptionally high case-fatality rate in the ≥80 year-old age group (9.2%) could be attributed to the lack of protective immunity in the population, especially among the vulnerable older adults, and that ongoing sero-surveillance is essential.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Humans , Seroepidemiologic Studies
3.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Mar 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1886378

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant BA.2 sublineage has increased rapidly in Europe and Asia since January 2022. Here, we report the epidemiological and genomic analysis of a large single source BA.2 outbreak in a housing estate. METHODS: We analyzed the epidemiological information of a community outbreak of BA.2 (STY outbreak). We performed whole viral genome sequencing using the Oxford Nanopore MinION device. We calculated the doubling time of the outbreak within a housing estate. RESULTS: The STY outbreak involved a total of 768 individuals as of 5 th February 2022, including 432 residents, visitors or staff (56.3%) from a single housing estate (KC Estate). The outbreak at the KC Estate has a short doubling time of 1.28 days (95% confidence interval: 0.560-1.935). The outbreak was promptly controlled with the lockdown of 3 buildings within the housing estate. Whole genome sequencing was performed for 133 patients in the STY outbreak, including 106 residents of the KC Estate. All 133 sequences from the STY outbreak belonged to the BA.2 sublineage, and phylogenetic analysis showed that these sequences cluster together. All individuals in the STY cluster had the unique mutation C12525T. CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights the exceptionally high transmissibility of the Omicron variant BA.2 sublineage in Hong Kong where stringent measures are implemented as part of the elimination strategy. Continual genomic surveillance is crucial in monitoring the emergence of epidemiologically important Omicron sub-variants.

4.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 Mar 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1852993

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 can infect human and other mammals, including hamsters. Syrian (Mesocricetus auratus) and dwarf (Phodopus sp.) hamsters are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection in the laboratory setting. However, pet shop-related COVID-19 outbreaks have not been reported. METHODS: We conducted an investigation of a pet shop-related COVID-19 outbreak due to Delta variant AY.127 involving at least three patients in Hong Kong. We tested samples collected from the patients, environment, and hamsters linked to this outbreak and performed whole genome sequencing analysis of the RT-PCR-positive samples. RESULTS: The patients included a pet shop keeper (Patient 1), a female customer of the pet shop (Patient 2), and the husband of Patient 2 (Patient 3). Investigation showed that 17.2% (5/29) and 25.5% (13/51) environmental specimens collected from the pet shop and its related warehouse, respectively, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by RT-PCR. Among euthanized hamsters randomly collected from the storehouse, 3% (3/100) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by RT-PCR and seropositive for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody by ELISA. Whole genome analysis showed that although all genomes from the outbreak belonged to the Delta variant AY.127, there were at least 3 nucleotide differences among the genomes from different patients and the hamster cages. Genomic analysis suggests that multiple strains have emerged within the hamster population, and these different strains have likely transmitted to human either via direct contact or via the environment. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrated probable hamster-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2. As pet trading is common around the world, this can represent a route of international spread of this pandemic virus.

5.
EBioMedicine ; 79: 103986, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1778094

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant evades immunity from past infection or vaccination and is associated with a greater risk of reinfection among recovered COVID-19 patients. We assessed the serum neutralizing antibody (NAb) activity against Omicron variant (Omicron NAb) among recovered COVID-19 patients with or without vaccination. METHODS: In this prospective cohort study with 135 recovered COVID-19 patients, we determined the serum NAb titers against ancestral virus or variants using a live virus NAb assay. We used the receiver operating characteristic analysis to determine the optimal cutoff for a commercially-available surrogate NAb assay. FINDINGS: Among recovered COVID-19 patients, the serum live virus geometric mean Omicron NAb titer was statistically significantly higher among BNT162b2 recipients compared to non-vaccinated individuals (85.4 vs 5.6,P < 0.0001). The Omicron seropositive rates in live virus NAb test (NAb titer ≥10) were statistically significantly higher among BNT162b2 (90.6% [29/32];P < 0.0001) or CoronaVac (36.7% [11/30]; P = 0.0115) recipients when compared with non-vaccinated individuals (12.3% [9/73]). Subgroup analysis of CoronaVac recipients showed that the Omicron seropositive rates were higher among individuals with two doses than those with one dose (85.7% vs 21.7%; P = 0.0045). For the surrogate NAb assay, a cutoff of 109.1 AU/ml, which is 7.3-fold higher than the manufacturer's recommended cutoff, could achieve a sensitivity and specificity of 89.5% and 89.8%, respectively, in detecting Omicron NAb. INTERPRETATION: Among individuals with prior COVID-19, one dose of BNT162b2 or two doses of CoronaVac could induce detectable serum Omicron NAb. Our result would be particularly important for guiding vaccine policies in countries with COVID-19 vaccine shortage. FUNDING: Health and Medical Research Fund, Richard and Carol Yu, Michael Tong (see acknowledgments for full list).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19 , Antibodies, Blocking , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2
6.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-332139

ABSTRACT

Monitoring population protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants is critical for risk assessment. In this serosurveillance study, older adults show much lower seropositive rates of neutralizing antibody (NAb) against ancestral virus than the younger population. The increase in NAb seopositive rate generally follows the population vaccination uptake rate, but older adults have a much lower NAb seropositive rate than vaccination uptake rate. For all age groups, the seropositive rates of NAb against Omicron variant are much lower than those against the ancestral virus. During the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong which is dominated by Omicron sublineage BA.2, the case-fatality rate is exceptionally high in the ≥80 year-old age group (9.2%). Our study suggests that the severe BA.2 outbreak in Hong Kong can be attributed by the lack of protective immunity in the population, especially among the vulnerable older adults, and highlights the importance of continual surveillance of protective immunity against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

7.
SSRN;
Preprint in English | SSRN | ID: ppcovidwho-326165

ABSTRACT

Background: SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant evades immunity from past infection or vaccination and is associated with a greater risk of reinfection among recovered COVID-19 patients. We assessed the serum neutralizing antibody (NAb) activity against Omicron variant (Omicron NAb) among recovered COVID-19 patients with or without vaccination. Methods: In this prospective cohort study with 135 recovered COVID-19 patients, we determined the serum NAb titers against ancestral virus or variants using a live virus NAb assay. We used the receiver operating characteristic analysis to determine the optimal cutoff for a commercially-available surrogate NAb assay. Findings: Among recovered COVID-19 patients, the serum live virus geometric mean Omicron NAb titer was statistically significantly higher among BNT162b2 recipients compared to non-vaccinated individuals (85.4 vs 5.6, P<0.0001). The Omicron seropositive rates in live virus NAb test (NAb titer ≥10) were statistically significantly higher among BNT162b2 (93.5% [29/32];P<0.0001) or CoronaVac (36.7% [11/30];P=0.0115) recipients when compared with non-vaccinated individuals (12.3% [9/73]). Subgroup analysis of CoronaVac recipients showed that the Omicron seropositive rates were higher among individuals with two doses than those with one dose (85.7% vs 21.7%;P=0.0045). For the surrogate NAb assay, a cutoff of 109.1 AU/ml, which is 7.3-fold higher than the manufacturer’s recommended cutoff, could achieve a sensitivity and specificity of 89.5% and 89.8%, respectively, in detecting Omicron NAb. Interpretation: Among individuals with prior COVID-19, one dose of BNT162b2 and two doses of CoronaVac could induce detectable serum Omicron NAb. Our result would be particularly important for guiding vaccine policies in countries with COVID-19 vaccine shortage. Funding Information: This work was supported by Health and Medical Research Fund, the Food and Health Bureau, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Ref no.: COVID190124 and COVID1903010 [Project 1]), and donations of Richard Yu and Carol Yu, Shaw Foundation Hong Kong, Michael Seak-Kan Tong, May Tam Mak Mei Yin, Lee Wan Keung Charity Foundation Limited, Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, Respiratory Viral Research Foundation Limited, Hui Ming, Hui Hoy and Chow Sin Lan Charity Fund Limited, Chan Yin Chuen Memorial Charitable Foundation, Marina Man-Wai Lee, the Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association South China Microbiology Research Fund, the Jessie & George Ho Charitable Foundation, Kai Chong Tong, Tse Kam Ming Laurence, Foo Oi Foundation Limited, Betty Hing-Chu Lee, and Ping Cham So. Declaration of Interests: KYY and KKWT report collaboration with SinoVac and Sinopharm. Other authors declare no conflict of interest.

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