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1.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci ; 377(1861): 20210242, 2022 10 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2001544

ABSTRACT

Recent advances in Bayesian phylogenetics offer substantial computational savings to accommodate increased genomic sampling that challenges traditional inference methods. In this review, we begin with a brief summary of the Bayesian phylogenetic framework, and then conceptualize a variety of methods to improve posterior approximations via Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling. Specifically, we discuss methods to improve the speed of likelihood calculations, reduce MCMC burn-in, and generate better MCMC proposals. We apply several of these techniques to study the evolution of HIV virulence along a 1536-tip phylogeny and estimate the internal node heights of a 1000-tip SARS-CoV-2 phylogenetic tree in order to illustrate the speed-up of such analyses using current state-of-the-art approaches. We conclude our review with a discussion of promising alternatives to MCMC that approximate the phylogenetic posterior. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Genomic population structures of microbial pathogens'.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Software , Algorithms , Bayes Theorem , Humans , Markov Chains , Monte Carlo Method , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
2.
Nature ; 610(7930): 154-160, 2022 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1991629

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Delta (Pango lineage B.1.617.2) variant of concern spread globally, causing resurgences of COVID-19 worldwide1,2. The emergence of the Delta variant in the UK occurred on the background of a heterogeneous landscape of immunity and relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Here we analyse 52,992 SARS-CoV-2 genomes from England together with 93,649 genomes from the rest of the world to reconstruct the emergence of Delta and quantify its introduction to and regional dissemination across England in the context of changing travel and social restrictions. Using analysis of human movement, contact tracing and virus genomic data, we find that the geographic focus of the expansion of Delta shifted from India to a more global pattern in early May 2021. In England, Delta lineages were introduced more than 1,000 times and spread nationally as non-pharmaceutical interventions were relaxed. We find that hotel quarantine for travellers reduced onward transmission from importations; however, the transmission chains that later dominated the Delta wave in England were seeded before travel restrictions were introduced. Increasing inter-regional travel within England drove the nationwide dissemination of Delta, with some cities receiving more than 2,000 observable lineage introductions from elsewhere. Subsequently, increased levels of local population mixing-and not the number of importations-were associated with the faster relative spread of Delta. The invasion dynamics of Delta depended on spatial heterogeneity in contact patterns, and our findings will inform optimal spatial interventions to reduce the transmission of current and future variants of concern, such as Omicron (Pango lineage B.1.1.529).


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Cities/epidemiology , Contact Tracing , England/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Quarantine/legislation & jurisprudence , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Travel/legislation & jurisprudence
3.
Commun Med (Lond) ; 2: 65, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1947557

ABSTRACT

Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused millions of infections and fatalities globally since its emergence in late 2019. The virus was first detected in Finland in January 2020, after which it rapidly spread among the populace in spring. However, compared to other European nations, Finland has had a low incidence of SARS-CoV-2. To gain insight into the origins and turnover of SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating in Finland in 2020, we investigated the phylogeographic and -dynamic history of the virus. Methods: The origins of SARS-CoV-2 introductions were inferred via Travel-aware Bayesian time-measured phylogeographic analyses. Sequences for the analyses included virus genomes belonging to the B.1 lineage and with the D614G mutation from countries of likely origin, which were determined utilizing Google mobility data. We collected all available sequences from spring and fall peaks to study lineage dynamics. Results: We observed rapid turnover among Finnish lineages during this period. Clade 20C became the most prevalent among sequenced cases and was replaced by other strains in fall 2020. Bayesian phylogeographic reconstructions suggested 42 independent introductions into Finland during spring 2020, mainly from Italy, Austria, and Spain. Conclusions: A single introduction from Spain might have seeded one-third of cases in Finland during spring in 2020. The investigations of the original introductions of SARS-CoV-2 to Finland during the early stages of the pandemic and of the subsequent lineage dynamics could be utilized to assess the role of transboundary movements and the effects of early intervention and public health measures.

4.
Epidemics ; 40: 100589, 2022 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1930857

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To better understand the conditions which have led to one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in Belgian nursing homes in 2020. SETTING: A nursing home in Flanders, Belgium, which experienced a massive outbreak of COVID-19 after a cultural event. An external volunteer who dressed as a legendary figure visited consecutively the 4 living units on December, 4th and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 the next day. Within days, residents started to display symptoms and the outbreak spread rapidly within the nursing home. METHODS: We interviewed key informants and collected standardized data from all residents retrospectively. A batch of 115 positive samples with a Ct value of < 37 by qRT-PCR were analyzed using whole-genome sequencing. Six months after the outbreak, ventilation assessment of gathering rooms in the nursing home was done using a tracer gas test with calibrated CO2 sensors. RESULTS: Timeline of diagnoses and symptom onsets clearly pointed to the cultural event as the start of the outbreak, with the volunteer as index case. The genotyping of positive samples depicted the presence of one large cluster, suggesting a single source outbreak. By the end of December, a total of 127 residents and 40 staff were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 since the beginning of the outbreak. The attack rate among residents was 77 % and significantly associated with presence at the event but not with close contact or mask wearing. The ventilation assessment showed a high background average CO2 level in four main rooms varying from 657 ppm to 846 ppm. CONCLUSIONS: Our investigation shows a rapid and widespread single source outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in a nursing home, in which airborne transmission was the most plausible explanation for the massive intra-facility spread. Our results underscore the importance of ventilation and air quality for the prevention of future outbreaks in closed facilities.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Carbon Dioxide , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Humans , Nursing Homes , Respiratory Aerosols and Droplets , Retrospective Studies
5.
Viruses ; 14(6)2022 05 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1869829

ABSTRACT

We report two clusters of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta variant) infections in a group of 41 Indian nursing students who travelled from New Delhi, India, to Belgium via Paris, France. All students tested negative before departure and had a second negative antigen test upon arrival in Paris. Upon arrival in Belgium, the students were quarantined in eight different houses. Four houses remained COVID-free during the 24 days of follow-up, while all 27 residents of the other four houses developed an infection during quarantine, including the four residents who were fully vaccinated and the two residents who were partially vaccinated. Genome sequencing revealed two distinct clusters affecting one and three houses, respectively. In this group of students, vaccination status did not seem to prevent infection nor decrease the viral load. No severe symptoms were reported. Extensive contact tracing and 3 months of nationwide genomic surveillance confirmed that these outbreaks were successfully contained and did not contribute to secondary community transmission in Belgium. These clusters highlight the importance of repeated testing and quarantine measures among travelers coming from countries experiencing a surge of infections, as all infections were detected 6 days or more after arrival.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Students
6.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-337749

ABSTRACT

The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant of concern (lineage B.1.617.2) in late 2020 resulted in a new wave of infections in many countries across the world, where it often became the dominant lineage in a relatively short amount of time. We here report on a novel genomic surveillance effort in Rwanda in the time period from June to September 2021, leading to 201 SARS-CoV-2 genomes being generated, the majority of which were identified as the Delta variant of concern. We show that in Rwanda, the Delta variant almost completely replaced the previously dominant A.23.1 and B.1.351 (Beta) lineages in a matter of weeks, and led to a tripling of the total number of COVID-19 infections and COVID-19-related fatalities over the course of only three months. We estimate that Delta in Rwanda had an average growth rate advantage of 0.034 (95% CI 0.025-0.045) per day over A.23.1, and of 0.022 (95% CI 0.012-0.032) over B.1.351. Phylogenetic analysis reveals the presence of at least seven local Delta transmission clusters, with two of these clusters occurring close to the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and another cluster close to the border with Tanzania. A smaller Delta cluster of infections also appeared close to the border with Uganda, illustrating the importance of monitoring cross-border traffic to limit the spread between Rwanda and its neighboring countries. We discuss our findings against a background of increased vaccination efforts in Rwanda, and also discuss a number of breakthrough infections identified during our study. Concluding, our study has added an important collection of data to the available genomes for the Eastern Africa region, with the number of Delta infections close to the border with neighboring countries highlighting the need to further strengthen genomic surveillance in the region to obtain a better understanding of the impact of border crossings on lowering the epidemic curve in Rwanda.

7.
Int J Infect Dis ; 122: 212-214, 2022 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1851266

ABSTRACT

On November 24, 2021, a new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant assigned to the lineage B.1.1.529 (Omicron) was first reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa. Despite the co-circulation of several SARS-CoV-2 variants, co-infection by different variants is not commonly identified. Here, we report two cases of SARS-CoV-2 co-identifications with the Omicron and Delta variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Genome, Viral , Genomics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
8.
Virus Evol ; 8(1): veac020, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1806583

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants continue to emerge, and their identification is important for the public health response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Genomic sequencing provides robust information but may not always be accessible, and therefore, mutation-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approaches can be used for rapid identification of known variants. International travelers arriving in Karachi between December 2020 and February 2021 were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR. A subset of positive samples was tested for S-gene target failure (SGTF) on TaqPathTM COVID-19 (Thermo Fisher Scientific) and for mutations using the GSD NovaType SARS-CoV-2 (Eurofins Technologies) assays. Sequencing was conducted on the MinION platform (Oxford Nanopore Technologies). Bayesian phylogeographic inference was performed integrating the patients' travel history information. Of the thirty-five COVID-19 cases screened, thirteen had isolates with SGTF. The travelers transmitted infection to sixty-eight contact cases. The B.1.1.7 lineage was confirmed through sequencing and PCR. The phylogenetic analysis of sequence data available for six cases included four B.1.1.7 strains and one B.1.36 and B.1.1.212 lineage isolate. Phylogeographic modeling estimated at least three independent B.1.1.7 introductions into Karachi, Pakistan, originating from the UK. B.1.1.212 and B.1.36 were inferred to be introduced either from the UK or the travelers' layover location. We report the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 and other lineages in Pakistan by international travelers arriving via different flight routes. This highlights SARS-CoV-2 transmission through travel, importance of testing, and quarantine post-travel to prevent transmission of new strains, as well as recording detailed patients' metadata. Such results help inform policies on restricting travel from destinations where new highly transmissible variants have emerged.

9.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-331342

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 vaccination has resulted in excellent protection against fatal disease, including in the elderly. However, risk factors for post-vaccination fatal COVID-19 are largely unknown. We comprehensively studied three large nursing home outbreaks (20-35% fatal cases) by combining SARS-CoV-2 aerosol monitoring, whole-genome phylogenetic analysis, and immunovirological profiling by digital nCounter transcriptomics. Phylogenetic investigations indicated each outbreak stemmed from a single introduction event, though with different variants (Delta, Gamma, and Mu). SARS-CoV-2 was detected in aerosol samples up to 52 days after the initial infection. Combining demographic, immune and viral parameters, the best predictive models for mortality comprised IFNB1 or age, viral ORF7a and ACE2 receptor transcripts. Comparison with published pre-vaccine fatal COVID-19 signatures and reanalysis of single-cell RNAseq data highlights the unique immune signature in post-vaccine fatal COVID-19 outbreaks. A multi-layered strategy including environmental sampling, immunomonitoring, and early antiviral therapy should be considered to prevent post-vaccination COVID-19 mortality in nursing homes.

10.
Nat Med ; 28(6): 1297-1302, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1758268

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Omicron BA.1 sublineage has been supplanted in many countries by the BA.2 sublineage. BA.2 differs from BA.1 by about 21 mutations in its spike. In this study, we first compared the sensitivity of BA.1 and BA.2 to neutralization by nine therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). In contrast to BA.1, BA.2 was sensitive to cilgavimab, partly inhibited by imdevimab and resistant to adintrevimab and sotrovimab. We then analyzed sera from 29 immunocompromised individuals up to 1 month after administration of Ronapreve (casirivimab and imdevimab) and/or Evusheld (cilgavimab and tixagevimab) antibody cocktails. All treated individuals displayed elevated antibody levels in their sera, which efficiently neutralized the Delta variant. Sera from Ronapreve recipients did not neutralize BA.1 and weakly inhibited BA.2. Neutralization of BA.1 and BA.2 was detected in 19 and 29 out of 29 Evusheld recipients, respectively. As compared to the Delta variant, neutralizing titers were more markedly decreased against BA.1 (344-fold) than BA.2 (nine-fold). We further report four breakthrough Omicron infections among the 29 individuals, indicating that antibody treatment did not fully prevent infection. Collectively, BA.1 and BA.2 exhibit noticeable differences in their sensitivity to therapeutic mAbs. Anti-Omicron neutralizing activity of Ronapreve and, to a lesser extent, that of Evusheld is reduced in patients' sera.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Monoclonal/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized , Antibodies, Neutralizing/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19/drug therapy , Humans , Membrane Glycoproteins/genetics , Neutralization Tests , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Viral Envelope Proteins
11.
EuropePMC; 2022.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-330085

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron BA.1 variant has been supplanted in many countries by the BA.2 sub-lineage. BA.2 differs from BA.1 by about 21 mutations in its spike. Human anti-spike monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are used for prevention or treatment of COVID-19. However, the capacity of therapeutic mAbs to neutralize BA.1 and BA.2 remains poorly characterized. Here, we first compared the sensitivity of BA.1 and BA.2 to neutralization by 9 therapeutic mAbs. In contrast to BA.1, BA.2 was sensitive to Cilgavimab, partly inhibited by Imdevimab and resistant to Adintrevimab and Sotrovimab. Two combinations of mAbs, Ronapreve (Casirivimab + Imdevimab) and Evusheld (Cilgavimab + Tixagevimab), are indicated as a pre-exposure prophylaxis in immunocompromised persons at risk of severe disease. We analyzed sera from 29 such individuals, up to one month after administration of Ronapreve and/or Evusheld. After treatment, all individuals displayed elevated antibody levels in their sera and neutralized Delta with high titers. Ronapreve recipients did not neutralize BA.1 and weakly impaired BA.2. With Evusheld, neutralization of BA.1 and BA.2 was detected in 19 and 29 out of 29 patients, respectively. As compared to Delta, titers were more severely decreased against BA.1 (344-fold) than BA.2 (9-fold). We further report 4 breakthrough Omicron infections among the 29 participants. Therefore, BA.1 and BA.2 exhibit noticeable differences in their sensitivity to therapeutic mAbs. Anti-Omicron activity of Ronapreve, and to a lesser extent that of Evusheld, is reduced in patients’ sera, a phenomenon associated with decreased clinical efficacy.

12.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1152, 2022 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1730284

ABSTRACT

In spring 2021, an increasing number of infections was observed caused by the hitherto rarely described SARS-CoV-2 variant A.27 in south-west Germany. From December 2020 to June 2021 this lineage has been detected in 31 countries. Phylogeographic analyses of A.27 sequences obtained from national and international databases reveal a global spread of this lineage through multiple introductions from its inferred origin in Western Africa. Variant A.27 is characterized by a mutational pattern in the spike gene that includes the L18F, L452R and N501Y spike amino acid substitutions found in various variants of concern but lacks the globally dominant D614G. Neutralization assays demonstrate an escape of A.27 from convalescent and vaccine-elicited antibody-mediated immunity. Moreover, the therapeutic monoclonal antibody Bamlanivimab and partially the REGN-COV2 cocktail fail to block infection by A.27. Our data emphasize the need for continued global monitoring of novel lineages because of the independent evolution of new escape mutations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Africa, Western/epidemiology , Amino Acid Substitution , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/pharmacology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/transmission , Drug Combinations , Germany/epidemiology , Global Health , Humans , Immune Evasion/genetics , Mutation , Phylogeography , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
13.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-317940

ABSTRACT

Finland has had a low incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) infections as compared to most European countries. Here we report the origins and turnover of SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating in Finland in 2020. SARS-CoV-2 introduced to Finland in January 2020 and spread rapidly across southern Finland during spring. We observed rapid turnover among Finnish lineages during this period. Clade 20C became the most prevalent among sequenced cases and was replaced by other strains in fall 2020. Bayesian phylogeographic reconstructions suggested 42 independent introductions into Finland during spring 2020, mainly from Italy, Austria, and Spain, which might have been the source for a third of cases. The investigations of the original introductions of SARS-CoV-2 to Finland during the early stages of the pandemic and of the subsequent lineage dynamics could be utilized to assess the role of transboundary movements and effects of early intervention and public health measures.

14.
Microbiol Resour Announc ; 11(2): e0116121, 2022 Feb 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1673354

ABSTRACT

We report the complete genome sequence of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant (lineage B.1.1.529) from a Belgian patient with a history of recent travel to Egypt. At the time of writing, this genome constituted the first confirmed case of an infection with the Omicron variant in Europe.

15.
Nature ; 602(7898): 671-675, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616994

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was first identified in November 2021 in Botswana and South Africa1-3. It has since spread to many countries and is expected to rapidly become dominant worldwide. The lineage is characterized by the presence of around 32 mutations in spike-located mostly in the N-terminal domain and the receptor-binding domain-that may enhance viral fitness and enable antibody evasion. Here we isolated an infectious Omicron virus in Belgium from a traveller returning from Egypt. We examined its sensitivity to nine monoclonal antibodies that have been clinically approved or are in development4, and to antibodies present in 115 serum samples from COVID-19 vaccine recipients or individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. Omicron was completely or partially resistant to neutralization by all monoclonal antibodies tested. Sera from recipients of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, sampled five months after complete vaccination, barely inhibited Omicron. Sera from COVID-19-convalescent patients collected 6 or 12 months after symptoms displayed low or no neutralizing activity against Omicron. Administration of a booster Pfizer dose as well as vaccination of previously infected individuals generated an anti-Omicron neutralizing response, with titres 6-fold to 23-fold lower against Omicron compared with those against Delta. Thus, Omicron escapes most therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and, to a large extent, vaccine-elicited antibodies. However, Omicron is neutralized by antibodies generated by a booster vaccine dose.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Immune Evasion/immunology , Immunization, Secondary , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , /immunology , Belgium , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , /immunology , Convalescence , Female , Humans , Male , Mutation , Neutralization Tests , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Travel
16.
Mol Biol Evol ; 39(2)2022 02 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1594013

ABSTRACT

The ongoing SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)-CoV (coronavirus)-2 pandemic has exposed major gaps in our knowledge on the origin, ecology, evolution, and spread of animal coronaviruses. Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is a member of the genus Alphacoronavirus in the family Coronaviridae that may have originated from bats and leads to significant hazards and widespread epidemics in the swine population. The role of local and global trade of live swine and swine-related products in disseminating PEDV remains unclear, especially in developing countries with complex swine production systems. Here, we undertake an in-depth phylogeographic analysis of PEDV sequence data (including 247 newly sequenced samples) and employ an extension of this inference framework that enables formally testing the contribution of a range of predictor variables to the geographic spread of PEDV. Within China, the provinces of Guangdong and Henan were identified as primary hubs for the spread of PEDV, for which we estimate live swine trade to play a very important role. On a global scale, the United States and China maintain the highest number of PEDV lineages. We estimate that, after an initial introduction out of China, the United States acted as an important source of PEDV introductions into Japan, Korea, China, and Mexico. Live swine trade also explains the dispersal of PEDV on a global scale. Given the increasingly global trade of live swine, our findings have important implications for designing prevention and containment measures to combat a wide range of livestock coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus , Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus , Swine Diseases , Animals , China , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus/genetics , Swine , Swine Diseases/epidemiology , United States
17.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-296907

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant was first identified in November 2021 in Botswana and South Africa. It has in the meantime spread to many countries and is expected to rapidly become dominant worldwide. The lineage is characterized by the presence of about 32 mutations in the Spike, located mostly in the N-terminal domain (NTD) and the receptor binding domain (RBD), which may enhance viral fitness and allow antibody evasion. Here, we isolated an infectious Omicron virus in Belgium, from a traveller returning from Egypt. We examined its sensitivity to 9 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) clinically approved or in development, and to antibodies present in 90 sera from COVID-19 vaccine recipients or convalescent individuals. Omicron was totally or partially resistant to neutralization by all mAbs tested. Sera from Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine recipients, sampled 5 months after complete vaccination, barely inhibited Omicron. Sera from COVID-19 convalescent patients collected 6 or 12 months post symptoms displayed low or no neutralizing activity against Omicron. Administration of a booster Pfizer dose as well as vaccination of previously infected individuals generated an anti-Omicron neutralizing response, with titers 5 to 31 fold lower against Omicron than against Delta. Thus, Omicron escapes most therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and to a large extent vaccine-elicited antibodies.

18.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-295991

ABSTRACT

All currently used first-generation COVID-19 vaccines are based on prototypic spike sequences from ancestral 2019 SARS-CoV-2 strains. However, it remains unclear to which extent vaccination protects against variants of concern (VOC) which fuel the ongoing pandemic. Here we show in a stringent hamster challenge model that immunization using prototypic spike expressed form a potent YF17D viral vector (Sanchez-Felipe et al. 2021) provides vigorous protection against infection with ancestral virus and VOC Alpha (B.1.1.7), however, is insufficient to provide optimal protection against the Beta (B.1.351) variant. To improve vaccine efficacy, a revised vaccine candidate was created that carries a modified spike antigen designed to cover the entire VOC spectrum. Vaccination of hamsters with this updated vaccine candidate provides full protection against intranasal challenge with all four VOC Alpha, Beta, Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617.2) resulting in complete elimination of infectious virus from the lungs and a marked improvement in lung pathology. Vaccinated hamsters did also no longer transmit the Delta variant to non-vaccinated sentinels. Overall, our data indicate that current first-generation COVID-19 vaccines need to be urgently updated to cover emerging sequence diversity of VOCs to maintain vaccine efficacy and to impede virus spread at the community level.

19.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-293110

ABSTRACT

Current licensed COVID-19 vaccines are based on antigen sequences of initial SARS-CoV-2 isolates that emerged in 2019. By mid 2021 these historical virus strains have been completely replaced by new cosmopolitan SARS-CoV-2 lineages. The ongoing pandemic has been further driven by emerging variants of concern (VOC) Alpha, Beta, Gamma and, lately predominant, Delta. These are characterized by an increased transmissibility and possible escape from naturally acquired or vaccine-induced immunity. We here show, using a YF17D-vectored first-generation COVID-19 vaccine (Sanchez-Felipe et al., 2021) and a stringent hamster challenge model (Abdelnabi et al., 2021) that the immunity elicited by a prototypic spike antigen is insufficient to provide optimal protection against the Beta VoC, urging for an antigenic update. We therefore designed an updated second-generation vaccine candidate that carries the sequence of a spike antigen that includes crucial epitopes from multiple VOCs. This vaccine candidate yielded a marked change in target antigen spectrum covered as demonstrated by (i) antigenic cartography and (ii) full protection against infection and virus-induced disease caused by any of the four VOCs (Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta) used for challenge. This more universal COVID-19 vaccine candidate also efficiently blocked direct transmission of VOC Delta from vaccinated infected hamsters to non-vaccinated sentinels under prolonged co-housing conditions. In conclusion, our data suggest that current first-generation COVID-19 vaccines need to be adapted to cover emerging sequence diversity of VOC to preserve vaccine efficacy and to contain virus spread at the community level.

20.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-292291

ABSTRACT

In spring 2021, an increasing number of infections was observed caused by the hitherto rarely described SARS-CoV-2 variant A.27 in south-west Germany. From December 2020 to June 2021 this lineage has been detected in 31 countries. Phylogeographic analyses of A.27 sequences obtained from national and international databases reveal a global spread of this lineage through multiple introductions from its inferred origin in Western Africa. Variant A.27 is characterized by a mutational pattern in the spike gene that includes the L18F, L452R and N501Y spike amino acid substitutions found in various variants of concern but lacks the globally dominant D614G. Neutralization assays demonstrated an escape of A.27 from convalescent and vaccine-elicited antibody-mediated immunity. Moreover, the therapeutic monoclonal antibody Bamlanivimab and partially the REGN-COV2 cocktail failed to block infection by A.27. Our data emphasize the need for continued global monitoring of novel lineages because of the independent evolution of new escape mutations.

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