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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.
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.

3.
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
4.
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
5.
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
6.
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.

7.
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
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