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1.
Knowl Based Syst ; 253: 109539, 2022 Oct 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1966919

ABSTRACT

Alongside the currently used nasal swab testing, the COVID-19 pandemic situation would gain noticeable advantages from low-cost tests that are available at any-time, anywhere, at a large-scale, and with real time answers. A novel approach for COVID-19 assessment is adopted here, discriminating negative subjects versus positive or recovered subjects. The scope is to identify potential discriminating features, highlight mid and short-term effects of COVID on the voice and compare two custom algorithms. A pool of 310 subjects took part in the study; recordings were collected in a low-noise, controlled setting employing three different vocal tasks. Binary classifications followed, using two different custom algorithms. The first was based on the coupling of boosting and bagging, with an AdaBoost classifier using Random Forest learners. A feature selection process was employed for the training, identifying a subset of features acting as clinically relevant biomarkers. The other approach was centered on two custom CNN architectures applied to mel-Spectrograms, with a custom knowledge-based data augmentation. Performances, evaluated on an independent test set, were comparable: Adaboost and CNN differentiated COVID-19 positive from negative with accuracies of 100% and 95% respectively, and recovered from negative individuals with accuracies of 86.1% and 75% respectively. This study highlights the possibility to identify COVID-19 positive subjects, foreseeing a tool for on-site screening, while also considering recovered subjects and the effects of COVID-19 on the voice. The two proposed novel architectures allow for the identification of biomarkers and demonstrate the ongoing relevance of traditional ML versus deep learning in speech analysis.

2.
J Voice ; 2021 Nov 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1607509

ABSTRACT

Many virological tests have been implemented during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for diagnostic purposes, but they appear unsuitable for screening purposes. Furthermore, current screening strategies are not accurate enough to effectively curb the spread of the disease. Therefore, the present study was conducted within a controlled clinical environment to determine eventual detectable variations in the voice of COVID-19 patients, recovered and healthy subjects, and also to determine whether machine learning-based voice assessment (MLVA) can accurately discriminate between them, thus potentially serving as a more effective mass-screening tool. Three different subpopulations were consecutively recruited: positive COVID-19 patients, recovered COVID-19 patients and healthy individuals as controls. Positive patients were recruited within 10 days from nasal swab positivity. Recovery from COVID-19 was established clinically, virologically and radiologically. Healthy individuals reported no COVID-19 symptoms and yielded negative results at serological testing. All study participants provided three trials for multiple vocal tasks (sustained vowel phonation, speech, cough). All recordings were initially divided into three different binary classifications with a feature selection, ranking and cross-validated RBF-SVM pipeline. This brough a mean accuracy of 90.24%, a mean sensitivity of 91.15%, a mean specificity of 89.13% and a mean AUC of 0.94 across all tasks and all comparisons, and outlined the sustained vowel as the most effective vocal task for COVID discrimination. Moreover, a three-way classification was carried out on an external test set comprised of 30 subjects, 10 per class, with a mean accuracy of 80% and an accuracy of 100% for the detection of positive subjects. Within this assessment, recovered individuals proved to be the most difficult class to identify, and all the misclassified subjects were declared positive; this might be related to mid and short-term vocal traces of COVID-19, even after the clinical resolution of the infection. In conclusion, MLVA may accurately discriminate between positive COVID-19 patients, recovered COVID-19 patients and healthy individuals. Further studies should test MLVA among larger populations and asymptomatic positive COVID-19 patients to validate this novel screening technology and test its potential application as a potentially more effective surveillance strategy for COVID-19.

3.
Front Immunol ; 12: 748881, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1551504

ABSTRACT

Olfactory and taste disorders (OTD) are commonly found as presenting symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with clinically mild COVID-19. Virus-specific T cells are thought to play an important role in the clearance of SARS-CoV-2; therefore the study of T cell specific immune responses in patients with mild symptoms may help to understand their possible role in protection from severe disease. We evaluated SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses to four different peptide megapools covering all SARS-CoV-2 proteins during the acute phase of the disease in 33 individuals with mild or no other symptom beside OTD and in 22 age-matched patients with severe infection. A control group of 15 outpatients with OTD and consistently negative nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 RNA swabs and virus-specific IgG serology was included in the study. Increased frequencies of virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were found in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients with OTD compared with those with severe COVID-19 and with SARS-CoV-2 negative OTD individuals. Moreover, enhanced CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell activation induced by SARS-CoV-2 peptides was associated with higher interferon (IFN)γ production. Increased frequencies of Spike (S1/S2)-specific CD4+ T cells showing enhanced IFNγ secretion and granzyme B content were associated with serum spike-specific IgG in the OTD group. In conclusion, patients with SARS-CoV-2 induced OTD develop highly functional virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells during the symptomatic phase of the disease, suggesting that robust and coordinated T-cell responses provide protection against extension of COVID-19 to the lower respiratory tract.


Subject(s)
Ageusia/pathology , Anosmia/pathology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , CD4 Lymphocyte Count , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/pathology , Cytokines/blood , Humans , Interferon-gamma/blood , Interferon-gamma/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
5.
Am J Otolaryngol ; 43(1): 103170, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1347477

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: New-onset olfactory and gustatory dysfunction (OGD) represents a well-acknowledged COVID-19 red flag. Nevertheless, its clinical, virological and serological features are still a matter of debate. MATERIALS AND METHODS: For this cohort study, 170 consecutive subjects with new-onset OGD were consecutively recruited. Otolaryngological examination, OGD subjective grading, nasopharyngeal swabs (NS) for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection and serum samples (SS) collection for SARS-CoV-2 IgG quantification were conducted at baseline and after one (T1), two (T2) and four weeks (T3). RESULTS: SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed in 79% of patients. Specifically, 43% of positive patients were detected only by SS analysis. The OGD was the only clinical complaint in 10% of cases. Concurrent sinonasal symptoms were reported by 45% of patients. Subjective improvement at T3 was reported by 97% of patients, with 40% recovering completely. Hormonal disorders and RNA detectability in NS were the only variables associated with OGD severity. Recovery rate was higher in case of seasonal influenza vaccination, lower in patients with systemic involvement and severe OGD. Not RNA levels nor IgG titers were correlated with recovery. CONCLUSION: Clinical, virological and serological features of COVID-19 related OGD were monitored longitudinally, offering valuable hints for future research on the relationship between host characteristics and chemosensory dysfunctions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/complications , Olfaction Disorders/immunology , Olfaction Disorders/virology , Taste Disorders/immunology , Taste Disorders/virology , Adult , Female , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , Male , Middle Aged , SARS-CoV-2/immunology
6.
Expert Rev Respir Med ; 15(10): 1303-1316, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1246642

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Severe asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) and without nasal polyps (CRSsNP), are heterogeneous diseases characterized by different mechanistic pathways (endotypes) and variable clinical presentations (phenotypes).Areas covered: This review provides the clinician with an overview of the prevalence and clinical impact of severe chronic upper and lower airways disease and suggests a novel therapeutic approach with biological agents with possible biomarkers. To select relevant literature for inclusion in this review, we conducted a literature search using the PubMed database, using terms 'severe airways disease' AND 'endotype' AND 'treatment.' The literature review was performed for publication years 2010-2020, restricting the articles to humans and English language publications.Expert opinion: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has brought forth many challenges for patients with severe airway disease and healthcare practitioners involved in care. These patients could have an increased risk of developing severe SARS-CoV-2 disease, although treatment with biologics is not associated with a worse prognosis. Eosinopenia on hospital admission plays a key role as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Nasal Polyps , Rhinitis , Sinusitis , Chronic Disease , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
7.
Clin Microbiol Infect ; 27(7): 1029-1034, 2021 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1163569

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response characterization represents a crucial issue for defining the role of immune protection against COVID-19. The aim of the study was to assess the SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response in a cohort of COVID-19 convalescent patients and in a group of unexposed subjects. METHODS: SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response was quantified from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 87 COVID-19 convalescent subjects (range 7-239 days after symptom onset) and 33 unexposed donors by ex vivo ELISpot assay. Follow-up of SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response was performed in ten subjects up to 12 months after symptom onset. The role of SARS-CoV-2 specific CD4 and CD8 T cells was characterized in a group of COVID-19 convalescent subjects. Moreover, neutralizing antibodies were determined in serum samples. RESULTS: In 14/33 (42.4%) unexposed donors and 85/87 (97.7%) COVID-19 convalescent subjects a positive result for at least one SARS-CoV-2 antigen was observed. A positive response was observed up to 12 months after COVID-19 infection (median 246 days after symptom onset; range 118-362 days). Of note, SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response seems to be mainly mediated by CD4 T cells. A weak positive correlation was observed between Spike-specific T-cell response and neutralizing antibody titre (p 0.0028; r2 = 0.2891) and positive SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response was observed in 8/9 (88.9%) COVID-19 convalescent subjects with undetectable SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies. DISCUSSION: Cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response in uninfected patients may be due to previous infections with other common coronaviruses. Our data suggest that long-term SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response might accompany a waning humoral response.


Subject(s)
CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Immunologic Memory , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antigens, Viral/immunology , Cohort Studies , Convalescence , Cross Reactions , Enzyme-Linked Immunospot Assay , Female , Follow-Up Studies , Humans , Immunity, Cellular , Male , Middle Aged , Young Adult
8.
Am J Otolaryngol ; 42(2): 102828, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-927098

ABSTRACT

On March 11, 2020, WHO has defined the novel coronavirus disease SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) outbreak as a pandemic and still today continues to affect much of the world. Among the reasons for the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection, there is not only the high transmissibility of the virus, but also the role of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic carriers. Therefore diagnostic testing is central to contain the global pandemic. Up to now real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-based molecular assays for detecting SARSCoV-2 in respiratory specimens is the current reference standard for COVID-19 diagnosis. Nasopharyngeal swab is the preferred choice for SARS-CoV-2 testing; however is not always a free of complications procedure. In patients with severe coagulopathies or diseases such as HHT, the risk of nosebleeding may be high. As in all those conditions like advanced stage sinonasal neoplasms or unfavorable anatomical characteristics, the nasopharyngeal swab may not be feasible. This work reports a safe and effective procedure of nasopharyngeal swab collection for COVID-19 testing, through the transoral way, in patients with contraindication to perform it transnasally. The procedure proved feasible and well tolerated. The discomfort for the patient is comparable with the execution of an oropharyngeal swab without exposing him to additional complications. In selected cases, the procedure described represents a valid alternative to nasopharyngeal swab performed transnasally. In particular, it allows reaching the area with the highest diagnostic sensitivity. Moreover it can be performed by Otolaryngology and, with adequate training, also by non-specialist staff.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Testing , Nasopharynx/virology , Specimen Handling/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Specimen Handling/instrumentation
10.
Microorganisms ; 8(7):1052, 2020.
Article | WHO COVID | ID: covidwho-654252

ABSTRACT

The main object of the study was to investigate the SARS-CoV-2 molecular and serological pattern in patients with mild symptoms including anosmia and ageusia. A cohort of 69 patients with olfactory and taste disorders (OTDs) were enrolled and prospectively monitored. Serological and molecular assays for the characterization of SARS-CoV-2 IgG and SARS-CoV-2 RNA, respectively, were performed at the time of enrolment and after 7 and 14 days. Patients were stratified according to the symptoms"onset. A total of 52 patients (75.4%) were diagnosed as COVID-19 positive being SARS-CoV-2 RNA and/or SARS-CoV-2 IgG positive. The remaining 17 (24.6%) were negative for COVID-19 and excluded from the analysis. We reported that only 34 out of 52 patients (65.4%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Moreover, the median time from onset of symptoms and enrolment was significantly higher in those patients with negative SARS-CoV-2 RNA in nasal swabs, suggesting that symptoms might last longer than SARS-CoV-2 replication. The great majority of patients (80%) developed SARS-CoV-2 IgG at three weeks after symptoms"onset while the detectability of SARS-CoV-2 RNA dramatically decreased over time, suggesting the crucial role of combination of molecular and serological assays for the diagnosis of COVID-19 in those patients reporting mild symptoms.

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