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Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-327741


Background Compared to the abundance of clinical, molecular, and genomic information available on patients hospitalised with COVID-19 disease from high-income countries, there is a paucity of data from low-income countries. Methods We enrolled 245 hospitalised patients with PCR confirmed COVID-19 disease at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, the main hospital for southern Malawi, between July 2020 and September 2021. The recruitment period covered three waves of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Malawi. Clinical and diagnostic data were collected using the ISARIC clinical characterization protocol for COVID-19. The viral material from PCR-positive swabs was amplified with a tiling PCR scheme and sequenced using the MinION sequencer in Malawi. Consensus genomes were generated using the ARTIC pipeline and lineage assignment was performed using Pangolin. Results Sequencing data showed that wave one was predominantly B.1 (8/11 samples), wave two consisted entirely of Beta variant of concern (VOC) (6/6), and wave three was predominantly Delta VOC (25/26). Patients recruited during the second and third waves had progressively fewer underlying chronic conditions, and in the third wave had a shorter time to presentation (2 days vs 5 in the original wave). Multivariable logistic regression demonstrated increased mortality in wave three, dominated by the Delta VOC, compared to previous waves (OR 6.6 [CI 1.1-38.8]). Conclusions Patients hospitalised with COVID-19 disease and who were recruited to the ISARIC cohort, in Blantyre during the Delta wave had more acute symptom onset;fewer underlying conditions;and were more likely to die. Whilst we demonstrate the value of linking virus sequence data with clinical outcome data in a low-income setting, this study also highlights the considerable barriers to establishing sequencing capacity in a setting heavily affected by disruptions in supply chain and inequity of resource distribution.

Viruses ; 13(8)2021 08 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1376992


While investigating a signal of adaptive evolution in humans at the gene LARGE, we encountered an intriguing finding by Dr. Stefan Kunz that the gene plays a critical role in Lassa virus binding and entry. This led us to pursue field work to test our hypothesis that natural selection acting on LARGE-detected in the Yoruba population of Nigeria-conferred resistance to Lassa Fever in some West African populations. As we delved further, we conjectured that the "emerging" nature of recently discovered diseases like Lassa fever is related to a newfound capacity for detection, rather than a novel viral presence, and that humans have in fact been exposed to the viruses that cause such diseases for much longer than previously suspected. Dr. Stefan Kunz's critical efforts not only laid the groundwork for this discovery, but also inspired and catalyzed a series of events that birthed Sentinel, an ambitious and large-scale pandemic prevention effort in West Africa. Sentinel aims to detect and characterize deadly pathogens before they spread across the globe, through implementation of its three fundamental pillars: Detect, Connect, and Empower. More specifically, Sentinel is designed to detect known and novel infections rapidly, connect and share information in real time to identify emerging threats, and empower the public health community to improve pandemic preparedness and response anywhere in the world. We are proud to dedicate this work to Stefan Kunz, and eagerly invite new collaborators, experts, and others to join us in our efforts.

Disaster Planning , Lassa Fever/epidemiology , Lassa virus/physiology , Africa, Western/epidemiology , Disaster Planning/methods , Humans , Lassa Fever/genetics , Lassa Fever/prevention & control , Lassa Fever/virology , Lassa virus/genetics , N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases/genetics , N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases/immunology , Nigeria/epidemiology , Pandemics , Polymorphism, Genetic , Receptors, Virus/genetics , Receptors, Virus/immunology
Nat Commun ; 12(1): 3554, 2021 06 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1265949


Although the COVID-19 pandemic has left no country untouched there has been limited research to understand clinical and immunological responses in African populations. Here we characterise patients hospitalised with suspected (PCR-negative/IgG-positive) or confirmed (PCR-positive) COVID-19, and healthy community controls (PCR-negative/IgG-negative). PCR-positive COVID-19 participants were more likely to receive dexamethasone and a beta-lactam antibiotic, and survive to hospital discharge than PCR-negative/IgG-positive and PCR-negative/IgG-negative participants. PCR-negative/IgG-positive participants exhibited a nasal and systemic cytokine signature analogous to PCR-positive COVID-19 participants, predominated by chemokines and neutrophils and distinct from PCR-negative/IgG-negative participants. PCR-negative/IgG-positive participants had increased propensity for Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae colonisation. PCR-negative/IgG-positive individuals with high COVID-19 clinical suspicion had inflammatory profiles analogous to PCR-confirmed disease and potentially represent a target population for COVID-19 treatment strategies.

COVID-19/immunology , Adult , Africa South of the Sahara/epidemiology , Anti-Bacterial Agents/administration & dosage , Antibodies/blood , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/epidemiology , Coinfection/immunology , Cytokines/blood , Dexamethasone/administration & dosage , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Immunoglobulin M/blood , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification