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1.
BMJ open ; 12(9), 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-2012189

ABSTRACT

Objective To describe the chronological genomic evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and its impact on public health in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Methods This study analysed all available SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences, metadata and rates of COVID-19 infection from the MENA region retrieved from the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data database from January 2020 to August 2021. Inferential and ‎descriptive statistics were conducted to describe the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2. Results Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in the MENA region indicated that the variants in January 2020 predominately belonged to the G, GR, GH or O clades and that the most common variant of concern was Alpha. By August 2021, however, the GK clade dominated (57.4% of all sequenced genomes), followed by the G clade (18.7%) and the GR clade (11.6%). In August, the most commonly sequenced variants of concern were Delta in the Middle East region (91%);Alpha (44.3%) followed by Delta (29.7%) and Beta (25.3%) in the North Africa region;and Alpha (88.9%), followed by Delta (10%) in the fragile and conflict-affected regions of MENA. The mean proportion of the variants of concern among the total sequenced samples differed significantly by country (F=1.93, P=0.0112) but not by major MENA region (F=0.14, P=0.27) or by vaccination coverage (F=1.84, P=0.176). Conclusion This analysis of the genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 provides an essential description the virus evolution and its impact on public health safety in the MENA region. As of August 2021, the Delta variant showed a genomic advantage in the MENA region. The MENA region includes several fragile and conflict-affected countries with extremely low levels of vaccination coverage and little genomic surveillance, which may soon exacerbate the existing health crisis within those countries and globally.

2.
J Blood Med ; 13: 357-361, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1917087

ABSTRACT

Thrombosis and coagulopathy have been found to be the most prevalent complications in patients with COVID-19. Thromboprophylaxis to prevent thromboembolic events is recommended for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a known complication of heparin use. This study aimed to determine the incidence of HIT among admitted patients with confirmed COVID-19 by PCR. In this study, two different HIT assays, rapid immunoassay (STic Expert HIT, Stago) and H-PF4 specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Asserachrom® HPIA - IgG), were performed. Of 200 patients with confirmed COVID-19, we identified 49 patients who met the possibility of HIT (low platelet count and high D-Dimer level). Only five (10.2%) had a positive HIT rapid test. However, none of the tested samples tested positive by ELISA. Thrombosis was reported in two of five (40%) patients. Further extensive studies are required to determine the prevalence and clinical significance of a positive HIT test among patients with COVID-19.

3.
Medicines (Basel) ; 9(5)2022 Apr 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1875703

ABSTRACT

This study provides epidemiologic and clinical characteristics of 492 consecutive patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Saudi Arabia between March and September 2020. Data were collected from electronic case reports. The cohort was 54% male, with 20.4% aged >60 years, 19.9% aged 31-40 years, and 17% aged 41-50 years. The median incubation period was 16 days, with upper and lower 95% quartiles of 27 and 10 days, respectively. Most patients (79.2%) were symptomatic. Variables significantly different between symptomatic and asymptomatic patients were age, blood oxygen saturation percentage, hemoglobin level, lymphocyte count, neutrophil to lymphocyte (NTL) ratio, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) level. Asymptomatic patients were mostly younger, with lower body mass index and ALT and AST levels but higher lymphocyte counts, NTL ratio, and CD4, CD8, natural killer cell, IgG, and IgM levels. Factors associated with increased risk of mortality were age (>42 years) and comorbidities, particularly diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Patients who were not given an antiviral regimen were associated with better prognosis than patients who received an antiviral regimen (HR, 0.07; 95% CI, 0.011-0.25). These findings will help clinicians and policymakers adopt best management and treatment options for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

4.
J Infect Public Health ; 15(6): 615-620, 2022 May 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1819541

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Even with the widespread availability of vaccines for the COVID-19 disease, there is no sign of decline in the rate of spread of the disease. Based on findings of different studies across the globe, the disease is characterized by poor outcomes in specific sociodemographic categories such as age, gender and presence of symptoms. METHODS: In this study, we carried out a multivariable logistic regression analysis on a national database (HESN+) of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia to determine predictors of hospitalization and mortality for these patients. RESULTS: Data was extracted for 328,301 confirmed COVID- 19 patients (mean age (SD) = 37.79 (1.68)) with 34.92% females and 65.08% males. Of these, 59.87% were Saudi Arabian citizens and 40.13% were non-Saudi. 68.91% of cases were discovered in Riyadh (n = 67,384), Makkah (n = 72,590) and the Eastern Province (n = 79,666). 72.2% of all cases were diagnosed and treated by the Ministry of Health (MOH). Of all confirmed cases, 95.28% showed one or more symptoms associated with COVID-19. 5.48% of these were hospitalized and 1.11% died. Predictors of mortality and hospitalization, respectively, included age (OR; 1.088 and 1.03), being male (OR; 1.443 and 1.138), nationality (OR; 2.11 and 1.993), presence of symptoms (OR; 1.816 and 4.386), and the health care sector in which patients received treatment (MOH OR; 1.352 and 4.731). CONCLUSION: We found that COVID-19-related hospitalization or mortality was higher among males, older adults, and patients showing one or more symptoms, and mortality likelihood was more than fourfold for patients treated by the MOH. Immigrants were also more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 infection compared to Saudi nationals.

5.
ACS Synth Biol ; 11(1): 406-419, 2022 01 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1591098

ABSTRACT

Simple, rapid, specific, and sensitive point-of-care detection methods are needed to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. CRISPR/Cas9-based lateral flow assays are emerging as a powerful alternative for COVID-19 diagnostics. Here, we developed Bio-SCAN (biotin-coupled specific CRISPR-based assay for nucleic acid detection) as an accurate pathogen detection platform that requires no sophisticated equipment or technical expertise. Bio-SCAN detects the SARS-CoV-2 genome in less than 1 h from sample collection to result. In the first step, the target nucleic acid sequence is isothermally amplified in 15 min via recombinase polymerase amplification before being precisely detected by biotin-labeled nuclease-dead SpCas9 (dCas9) on commercially available lateral flow strips. The resulting readout is visible to the naked eye. Compared to other CRISPR-Cas-based pathogen detection assays, Bio-SCAN requires no additional reporters, probes, enhancers, reagents, or sophisticated devices to interpret the results. Bio-SCAN is highly sensitive and successfully detected a clinically relevant level (4 copies/µL) of synthetic SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome. Similarly, Bio-SCAN showed 100% negative and 96% positive predictive agreement with RT-qPCR results when using clinical samples (86 nasopharyngeal swab samples). Furthermore, incorporating variant-specific sgRNAs in the detection reaction allowed Bio-SCAN to efficiently distinguish between the α, ß, and δ SARS-CoV-2 variants. Also, our results confirmed that the Bio-SCAN reagents have a long shelf life and can be assembled locally in nonlaboratory and limited-resource settings. Furthermore, the Bio-SCAN platform is compatible with the nucleic acid quick extraction protocol. Our results highlight the potential of Bio-SCAN as a promising point-of-care diagnostic platform that can facilitate low-cost mass screening for SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing , COVID-19 , CRISPR-Cas Systems , Point-of-Care Systems , RNA, Viral/genetics , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/genetics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
6.
J Infect Public Health ; 15(1): 51-55, 2022 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1549934

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in solid organ transplant recipients is associated with suboptimal immune response and risk for breakthrough infection. It is not known whether they are at risk of severe post-vaccine breakthrough infections in the presence of SARSCoV-2 variant of concern. We describe a case series of four fully vaccinated solid organ transplant recipients who developed SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern breakthrough infections. Three patients received BNT162b2 mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech) and one patient received ChAdOx1 (AZD12220) COVID-19 vaccines. The patients were infected with SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating in Saudi Arabia. Two patients were infected with Alpha variant and had severe pneumonia requiring intensive care admission and ventilatory support and subsequently died. The other two patients recovered; one patient was infected with Beta variant required low supplemental oxygen via nasal flow and the other patient was infected with Delta variant and required high supplemental oxygen nasal flow. Younger patients had a better outcome than older patients. Future large studies are required to confirm our observations and to compare the different vaccine efficacy among solid organ transplants in the era of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Organ Transplantation , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
7.
J Infect Public Health ; 14(9): 1139-1143, 2021 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1338435

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: One major challenge for detecting the virus that causes COVID-19 is commercial SARS-CoV-2 testing kit or reagent availability. To allow every laboratory or hospital access to an in-house assay, we developed a low-cost SARS-CoV-2 detection assay protocol using in-house primers and reagents/equipment on hand in most biology or diagnostic laboratories: a SYBR Green-based RT-PCR. RNA extraction has also become a major bottleneck due to limited supplies and the required labor. Thus, we validated an alternative RNA extraction protocol. METHODS: We designed and synthesized in-house primers according to SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences retrieved from GISAID database. One hundred and ninety patient samples were collected by nasopharyngeal swab, coded, and used to develop and validate the assay protocol. RNA extraction was performed using TRI reagent-based RNA protocol to inactivate the virus; thus, testing was conducted in a conventional biosafety level 2 laboratory. RESULTS: The sensitivity and specificity of the primers were evaluated using 190 patient samples previously tested for SARS-CoV-2. The positive amplicons were sequenced to confirm the results. The assay protocol was developed, and the specificity of each RT-PCR product was confirmed using melting curve analyses. Of 190 samples, the SYBR Green-based RT-PCR assay detected SARS-CoV-2 target genes in 88 samples, with no false-positive results. These findings indicate that the sensitivity of our assay was 97.7% and specificity of 100% with those of the diagnostic laboratory that tested the same samples using a Rotor-Gene PCR cycler with an Altona Diagnostics SARS-CoV-2 kit (R2 = 0.89). CONCLUSIONS: These approaches are reliable, repeatable, specific, sensitive, simple, and low-cost tools for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in a conventional biosafety level 2 laboratory, offering alternative approaches when commercial kits are unavailable or not affordable.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Laboratories , RNA, Viral/genetics , Sensitivity and Specificity
8.
Front Immunol ; 12: 683800, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305645

ABSTRACT

The major cause of death in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients is due to de-regulation of the innate immune system and development of cytokine storm. SARS-CoV-2 infects multiple cell types in the lung, including macrophages, by engagement of its spike (S) protein on angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. ACE2 receptor initiates signals in macrophages that modulate their activation, including production of cytokines and chemokines. IL-1R-associated kinase (IRAK)-M is a central regulator of inflammatory responses regulating the magnitude of TLR responsiveness. Aim of the work was to investigate whether SARS-CoV-2 S protein-initiated signals modulate pro-inflammatory cytokine production in macrophages. For this purpose, we treated PMA-differentiated THP-1 human macrophages with SARS-CoV-2 S protein and measured the induction of inflammatory mediators including IL6, TNFα, IL8, CXCL5, and MIP1a. The results showed that SARS-CoV-2 S protein induced IL6, MIP1a and TNFα mRNA expression, while it had no effect on IL8 and CXCL5 mRNA levels. We further examined whether SARS-CoV-2 S protein altered the responsiveness of macrophages to TLR signals. Treatment of LPS-activated macrophages with SARS-CoV-2 S protein augmented IL6 and MIP1a mRNA, an effect that was evident at the protein level only for IL6. Similarly, treatment of PAM3csk4 stimulated macrophages with SARS-CoV-2 S protein resulted in increased mRNA of IL6, while TNFα and MIP1a were unaffected. The results were confirmed in primary human peripheral monocytic cells (PBMCs) and isolated CD14+ monocytes. Macrophage responsiveness to TLR ligands is regulated by IRAK-M, an inactive IRAK kinase isoform. Indeed, we found that SARS-CoV-2 S protein suppressed IRAK-M mRNA and protein expression both in THP1 macrophages and primary human PBMCs and CD14+ monocytes. Engagement of SARS-CoV-2 S protein with ACE2 results in internalization of ACE2 and suppression of its activity. Activation of ACE2 has been previously shown to induce anti-inflammatory responses in macrophages. Treatment of macrophages with the ACE2 activator DIZE suppressed the pro-inflammatory action of SARS-CoV-2. Our results demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2/ACE2 interaction rendered macrophages hyper-responsive to TLR signals, suppressed IRAK-M and promoted pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. Thus, activation of ACE2 may be a potential anti-inflammatory therapeutic strategy to eliminate the development of cytokine storm observed in COVID-19 patients.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/immunology , Cytokine Release Syndrome/immunology , Interleukin-1 Receptor-Associated Kinases/metabolism , Macrophages/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing/genetics , Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing/metabolism , Gene Expression Regulation , Humans , Immunity, Innate , Inflammation Mediators/metabolism , Interleukin-1 Receptor-Associated Kinases/genetics , Interleukin-6/genetics , Interleukin-6/metabolism , Lipopolysaccharides/immunology , Macrophages/virology , Protein Binding , THP-1 Cells , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/genetics , Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/metabolism
9.
ACS Omega ; 6(11): 7374-7386, 2021 Mar 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1155691

ABSTRACT

One-step reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) is the most widely applied method for COVID-19 diagnostics. Notwithstanding the facts that one-step qRT-PCR is well suited for the diagnosis of COVID-19 and that there are many commercially available one-step qRT-PCR kits in the market, their high cost and unavailability due to airport closures and shipment restriction became a major bottleneck that had driven the desire to produce the key components of such kits locally. Here, we provide a simple, economical, and powerful one-step qRT-PCR kit based on patent-free, specifically tailored versions of Moloney murine leukemia virus reverse transcriptase and Thermus aquaticus DNA polymerase and termed R3T (Rapid Research Response Team) one-step qRT-PCR. We also demonstrate the robustness of our enzyme production strategies and provide the optimal reaction conditions for their efficient augmentation in a one-step approach. Our kit was routinely able to reliably detect as low as 10 copies of the synthetic RNAs of SARS-CoV-2. More importantly, our kit successfully detected COVID-19 in clinical samples of broad viral titers with similar reliability and selectivity to that of the Invitrogen SuperScript III Platinum One-step qRT-PCR and TaqPath one-step RT-qPCR kits. Overall, our kit has shown robust performance in both laboratory settings and the Saudi Ministry of Health-approved testing facility.

10.
Channels (Austin) ; 14(1): 403-412, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-889445

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has prompted an urgent need to identify effective medicines for the prevention and treatment of the disease. A comparative analysis between SARS-CoV-2 and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) can expand the available knowledge regarding the virology and potential drug targets against these viruses. Interestingly, comparing HCV with SARS-CoV-2 reveals major similarities between them, ranging from the ion channels that are utilized, to the symptoms that are exhibited by patients. Via this comparative analysis, and from what is known about HCV, the most promising treatments for COVID-19 can focus on the reduction of viral load, treatment of pulmonary system damages, and reduction of inflammation. In particular, the drugs that show most potential in this regard include ritonavir, a combination of peg-IFN, and lumacaftor-ivacaftor. This review anaylses SARS-CoV-2 from the perspective of the role of ion homeostasis and channels in viral pathomechanism. We also highlight other novel treatment approaches that can be used for both treatment and prevention of COVID-19. The relevance of this review is to offer high-quality evidence that can be used as the basis for the identification of potential solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Hepacivirus/metabolism , Ion Channels/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/metabolism , Animals , Betacoronavirus/pathogenicity , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Hepacivirus/pathogenicity , Hepatitis C/metabolism , Hepatitis C/virology , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS-CoV-2
11.
J Infect Dev Ctries ; 14(7): 699-706, 2020 Jul 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-721548

ABSTRACT

The emergence of a novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2), from Wuhan, China, in December 2019 has challenged many countries. The current pandemic caused by this coronavirus has already negatively affected millions of people and the economies of countries worldwide. However, the challenges faced by Saudi Arabia during the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) epidemic that began in 2012 led to marked improvements in the government's response to the current pandemic. Saudi Arabia is one of largest countries in the Middle East and is home to the holiest Muslim sites. Since the global risk of the virus was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), Saudi Arabia has taken substantial public health measures to control the spread of the infection. This review reports on the transmission of SARS-COV-2 in Saudi Arabia and the proactive responses taken by the government, comparing the Saudi government's actions and their effects with those of other countries. Although Saudi Arabia is currently experiencing the peak of the pandemic, their early precautionary responses have shortened the period of individual/family isolation, reduced the number of confirmed infections and infection-related fatality rates, and decreased the economic burden of the people and the country compared with other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Body Temperature , COVID-19 , Humans , Infection Control/methods , Infection Control/organization & administration , Islam , Public Health , Saudi Arabia/epidemiology , Social Isolation
12.
Saudi J Biol Sci ; 27(10): 2531-2538, 2020 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-108754

ABSTRACT

In late December 2019, the world woke to a reality of a pandemic of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), elicited by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which belongs to a group of ß-coronavirus. The potential to cause life-threatening respiratory failure and rapid transmission puts COVID-19 in the list of Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). In the last two decades, this is the 3rd deadliest Coronavirus pandemic, following SARS which lasted between 2002 and 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) from 2012 till date. Globally and as of April 23rd 2020, COVID-19 has affected 2,544,792 individuals in over 200 countries, causing 175,694 fatalities. While the SARS-CoV-2 originated in China with 84,302 confirmed cases and 4642 deaths as at the time of writing this review, the rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in exponential increase in the number of cases outside of China to about 10 times the report case and death in mainland China. SARS-CoV-2 is suspected to be zoonotic in nature as genetic studies have shown sequence similarity to viruses originating from bats. Extreme precautionary measures, such as curfew, shutting of borders and quarantining of individuals suspected to be infected have been instituted with immediate effect; however, due to individuals that are asymptomatic, uncontrolled human-to-human transmission has resulted in exponential infection rate and numerous loss of lives even with this lockdown measures. This review article summarizes the developing situation surrounding the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with respect to its epidemiology, unique genomic structure, possible origins, transmission, pathogenesis, comparison with other deadly species of Coronaviruses (CoV) and emerging treatment strategies built on informed literature.

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