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Clin Infect Dis ; 75(Supplement_1): S110-S120, 2022 Aug 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1992148


BACKGROUND: Comprehensive pathogen genomic surveillance represents a powerful tool to complement and advance precision vaccinology. The emergence of the Alpha variant in December 2020 and the resulting efforts to track the spread of this and other severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern led to an expansion of genomic sequencing activities in Germany. METHODS: At Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German National Institute of Public Health, we established the Integrated Molecular Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 (IMS-SC2) network to perform SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance at the national scale, SARS-CoV-2-positive samples from laboratories distributed across Germany regularly undergo whole-genome sequencing at RKI. RESULTS: We report analyses of 3623 SARS-CoV-2 genomes collected between December 2020 and December 2021, of which 3282 were randomly sampled. All variants of concern were identified in the sequenced sample set, at ratios equivalent to those in the 100-fold larger German GISAID sequence dataset from the same time period. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed variant assignments. Multiple mutations of concern emerged during the observation period. To model vaccine effectiveness in vitro, we employed authentic-virus neutralization assays, confirming that both the Beta and Zeta variants are capable of immune evasion. The IMS-SC2 sequence dataset facilitated an estimate of the SARS-CoV-2 incidence based on genetic evolution rates. Together with modeled vaccine efficacies, Delta-specific incidence estimation indicated that the German vaccination campaign contributed substantially to a deceleration of the nascent German Delta wave. CONCLUSIONS: SARS-CoV-2 molecular and genomic surveillance may inform public health policies including vaccination strategies and enable a proactive approach to controlling coronavirus disease 2019 spread as the virus evolves.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Genome, Viral , Genomics , Humans , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Vaccinology
Allergy ; 77(7): 2080-2089, 2022 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1909311


BACKGROUND: The mRNA vaccine BNT162b2 (Comirnaty, BioNTech/Pfizer) and the vaccine candidate CVnCoV (Curevac) each encode a stabilized spike protein of SARS-CoV2 as antigen but differ with respect to the nature of the mRNA (modified versus unmodified nucleotides) and the mRNA amount (30 µg versus 12 µg RNA). This study characterizes antisera elicited by these two vaccines in comparison to convalescent sera. METHODS: Sera from BNT162b2 vaccinated healthcare workers, and sera from participants of a phase I trial vaccinated with 2, 4, 6, 8, or 12 µg CVnCoV and convalescent sera from hospitalized patients were analyzed by ELISA, neutralization tests, surface plasmon resonance (SPR), and peptide arrays. RESULTS: BNT162b2-elicited sera and convalescent sera have a higher titer of spike-RBD-specific antibodies and neutralizing antibodies as compared to the CVnCoV-elicited sera. For all analyzed sera a reduction in binding and neutralizing antibodies was found for the lineage B.1.351 variant of concern. SPR analyses revealed that the CVnCoV-elicited sera have a lower fraction of slow-dissociating antibodies. Accordingly, the CVnCoV sera almost fail to compete with the spike-ACE2 interaction. The significance of common VOC mutations K417N, E484K, or N501Y focused on linear epitopes was analyzed using a peptide array approach. The peptide arrays showed a strong difference between convalescent sera and vaccine-elicited sera. Specifically, the linear epitope at position N501 was affected by the mutation and elucidates the escape of viral variants to antibodies against this linear epitope. CONCLUSION: These data reveal differences in titer, neutralizing capacity, and affinity of the antibodies between BNT162b2- and CVnCoV-elicited sera, which could contribute to the apparent differences in vaccine efficacy.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Antibodies, Neutralizing , Antibodies, Viral , BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19/therapy , Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic , Epitopes , Humans , Immunization, Passive , Peptides , RNA, Messenger , RNA, Viral , Vaccines, Synthetic , mRNA Vaccines , COVID-19 Serotherapy
Viruses ; 13(8)2021 07 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1335229


Here, we report on the increasing frequency of the SARS-CoV-2 lineage A.27 in Germany during the first months of 2021. Genomic surveillance identified 710 A.27 genomes in Germany as of 2 May 2021, with a vast majority identified in laboratories from a single German state (Baden-Wuerttemberg, n = 572; 80.5%). Baden-Wuerttemberg is located near the border with France, from where most A.27 sequences were entered into public databases until May 2021. The first appearance of this lineage based on sequencing in a laboratory in Baden-Wuerttemberg can be dated to early January '21. From then on, the relative abundance of A.27 increased until the end of February but has since declined-meanwhile, the abundance of B.1.1.7 increased in the region. The A.27 lineage shows a mutational pattern typical of VOIs/VOCs, including an accumulation of amino acid substitutions in the Spike glycoprotein. Among those, L18F, L452R and N501Y are located in the epitope regions of the N-terminal- (NTD) or receptor binding domain (RBD) and have been suggested to result in immune escape and higher transmissibility. In addition, A.27 does not show the D614G mutation typical for all VOIs/VOCs from the B lineage. Overall, A.27 should continue to be monitored nationally and internationally, even though the observed trend in Germany was initially displaced by B.1.1.7 (Alpha), while now B.1.617.2 (Delta) is on the rise.

COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/epidemiology , France/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , Germany/epidemiology , Humans , Mutation , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism